Grandfather loves peanuts, so much so he is indifferent to the form they come in – shelled, unshelled, peanut butter, pie, cookies, ice cream, or anything that has the word peanut in it.
Says he has always had a fondness for them since childhood, though they were a rare treat then.
Women with good nature and affection gifted him a Mr. Peanut statue they found in a thriftstore – he loves it, and says maybe he needs to get a top hat and eyeglass like Mr. Peanut wears – children love it too and he doesn’t mind their playing with it and has instilled his love of peanuts in them also.
Generational peanut eaters and now perhaps peanut farmers as well.
A couple of years ago grandfather seeing that demand was exceeding supply decided he would plant a few peanuts and see how it went.
He tended them, sang to them, and eagerly anticipated the first sprout, all the while with little ones at his side keeping watch and weeding.
When it came time to harvest his joy was obvious, and during the drying process and subsequent roasting in the oven his anticipation undiminished.
Success breeds confidence, and so the peanut section has been expanded, producing enough to share with friends and last into the winter.
I have a mental image of grandfather with his grandchildren all in top hats and wearing monocles tending the garden, I can’t think of a better teacher or a better environment for them.
Grandfather has a way about him, an understanding of and in tune with the natural world.
It grieves him that bees are on the decline for no other reason than man and the poisons he makes.
He says that sometimes when a particular species overpopulates there is a die off, natures way of bringing things back into balance, and he finds an intricate wisdom in that as harsh as it may appear to some. But this is not the case with bees.
That he thinks maybe with the increase in diseases among people nature may be trying to restore the balance man has upset, but he doesn’t know if that is the way of it or not.
One time during that part of the season when bees swarm I accompanied grandfather to make a good place for them as he called it – the “tools” to create this habitat were two bowls half full of honey to be placed at what he felt were the appropriate sites.
Grandfather told me when he was young he had a great taste for honey, almost as much as he does for peanuts – one day while in the woods he found a hive and thought it was surely a gift and he could help himself.
Apparently the bees thought otherwise and so he retreated to think about it for a couple of days, nurse his wounds, and arrived at the conclusion he should ask them to share some honey, so he began visiting the hive and talking to them, sometimes sitting for hours as they came and went.
He praised and thanked them for the good work they did, called them friend and brother, told them where they might find patches of flowers and where it might be best to avoid going.
In time they accepted him and he says they began to speak to him, and so he struck a bargain with them, that he would always be respectful, not abuse any privilege they granted, and if needed and he could he would help if trouble arose.
In return he would ask a small bowl of honey now and again, and when they were swarming he would set a small bowl of honey in a good place where they could build a hive and not be disturbed.
Some may think of that as little more than a story, a story to tell children with a moral about respect, but the truth is Grandfather selected two good sites, set the bowls in trees as high up as he could reach, sang his bee song, and we left.
In a few days I began to notice bees in the garden buzzing around squash blossoms, and when I pointed them out to grandfather he smiled and said “yes, friends”. So the next day we returned to the locations we had left grandfather’s offering and found two huge clumps of bees busy constructing hives.
Grandfather goes to visit his friends about every other week taking a bowl with him that would be full when he returned.
I asked grandfather if it is the honey or the song that attracts the bees and he replied both, as it is a song they gave him that all among their nation know, and the offering of the bowl a sign that he will not abuse the privilege and willing to share what he has.
And so he has his two favorite things, one by his hand and the other through the generosity of friends.