In the movie Bliss, based upon a Peter Carey novel, there was a phrase that has stuck in memory, “the love letter that took eight years to deliver.” In part of the story a free-spirited bee-keeper, feeling betrayed by her businessman lover’s having sucked her into his lifestyle, left him to return to her hovel in the wilds and her bee hives. He followed penitently but she would not speak to him, instead shouting and throwing rocks whenever she spied him. He in turn moved into another hovel a safe distance away but would not leave the area, instead spending his time scrabbling in the dirt around her area and dodging rocks.Then after eight years of this the bee-keeper was harvesting some honey in a disspirited manner, this being the time of year when the honey was nondescript rubbish due to the scarcity and poor quality of the locally available blooms. She tasted it and was stunned to find it delicious. Not the usual rubbish. Running out into the surrounding woods she found a great many bee shrubs of a kind that had not been there before, all in full bloom. Her lurking ex-lover had been planting them and they were finally mature enough to flower abundantly. She forgave him and they lived more or less happily ever after.

Litttle leaf lindenThe phrase comes to mind because we recently planted a little-leaf linden tree, a mere two foot high thing from the Arbor Day organization. Some day, with care and luck, it will be sixty feet high, spreading forty feet, and perfuming the summer air with promise of light, aromatic honey. It seems underappreciated here in the USA except by European immigrants. Their eyes light up with fond memory and they can hardly stop themselves from telling us how beautiful the trees are, how flavorful the honey is, and to make linden tea for chest colds. They love this tree.

Bees love it as well when the nectar is flowing in June and July, although the usual sources say that the amount of nectar is highly variable from year to year depending upon the weather. A bad year will just manage to supply the hive with nothing extra for the beekeeper to harvest but a good year is very good indeed.

Our mature, bloom-laden tree filled with the sound of buzzing is years away and the little stick with leaves just something of an investment but it is nicer to think of it as a love letter to our future hives.