While everyone else seemed to be retreating indoors and huddling round their television sets, Lucy decided to make the most of the good weather by setting up a make-shift office in her teeny urban garden. Lucy’s al fresco workspace resonated with the gentle hum of bees as they crawled over a California lilac. The sheer variety of these charismatic creatures provided a constant source of fascination. There were fluffy bees just begging to be stroked, pint-sized bees not much bigger than the nail on her pinkie finger, narcoleptic bumble bees that drifted into dreamland the moment they landed on a vibrant blue flower.
While everyone else seemed to be baking banana bread and cutting their own hair, Lucy decided to learn as much as she could about bees (their likes, their dislikes, how to attract more of them into her garden). She approached this task with the zeal of a contestant revising for the final of Mastermind, devouring the contents of every article and book that she could lay her hands on. Lucy found herself intrigued by folklore, such as the tradition of beekeepers telling their bees about recent deaths.
While everyone else seemed to be drawing rainbows and banging pans, Lucy decided to tell the bees what was happening in the hospitals and care homes. Each evening, she leant over the pillowy cones of echinacea or the purple spikes of salvia and, in hushed tones, informed the bees how many people had died. On days when the mortality data were particularly harrowing, she contemplated pinning a proclamation to the garden fence for them to read. But was showing the bees the same as telling the bees?
While everyone else seemed to be returning to their old lives and bad habits, Lucy decided to move to the country and become a beekeeper. Each evening, she went to her allotment and told the bees about deaths reported in the news: celebrities, murder victims, people lost to famine, flood and war. Even a queen. The bees rewarded Lucy’s efforts with honey and a bumper crop of fruit on the apple tree.