Blossoming almond orchard in Tehama County.

In past blog posts, I’ve rhapsodized on the joy of living in an agricultural area, shared my love of the false spring we have each year, and touted the beauty of blossoms. This weekend, I took my husband for a drive in the country to wrap all those pleasures together and tie them with a bow.

In the shadow of snowy Mt. Lassen–still an active volcano, its last eruption in 1917–we drove country roads in the county just north of us, admiring the gorgeous show of blossoms in the orchards. These few short weeks of the almond bloom disappear too quickly, and since I never seem to get my fill, a drive through ag country seemed a good way to bask in the moment.

We found the orchards blooming as advertised. We also found multiple hives of bees hard at work, carrying pollen from one bloom to another, ensuring that a high percentage of those blossoms will grow into almonds by harvest time.

As with other parts of the nation, California has experienced a frightening die-off of honey bees. I find it comforting to see these little treasures alive, healthy, and actively engaged in bee work.  The orchardists and beekeepers have a nice symbiosis: the growers get a good nut harvest and the apiarists (a.k.a. beekeepers) earn a fee for each hive they rent and also harvest honey at the end of the season.

The bees also win. They are fed on sugar-water through the winter and immunized against the mite infestation that has devastated their sisters in the wild. When I return home to find my plum tree in full blossom, I’m grateful we still have some wild bees and that they see fit to visit my yard. It means we’ll have plums this summer.

I feel privileged to live surrounded by all this rich growth and nurtured by such splendid beauty, blessed to have this loveliness all around me, some of it literally in my own backyard.