Suzilee had discovered a new world of wonder right there in Nana’s flower garden. All was well in her world. Her head was full of pictures she needed to draw, and stories she needed to tell when she went back to school.
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The sun shone brightly at morning's light. The dark was gone and would not be back until night. It is summer vacation time and Suzilee is spending a few weeks with her Great Grandmother in the Panhandle of Florida. There the mornings are quite warm. Suzilee and her Nana like to spend the early morning hours outdoors. They like to watch for the garden friends that visit the Fountain of Sweet Waters in the flower garden at Nana's house.
Nana is Suzilee's great grandmother. However, even though she is elderly and she walks slowly, she keeps a beautiful flower garden. Each clear and sunny day after breakfast, Nana goes to her garden to search for weeds and harmful insects as she tends her plants. Working in her garden has many benefits for her sweet Nana. It allows her to get much needed exercise, it gives her a sense of usefulness, and it gives her great pride and joy.
There are many kinds of plants in Nana's garden and she likes to show them off to friends and neighbors who come by for a visit. Suzilee is learning the names of all the plants for show and tell time, when she returns to school in the fall. For now, she uses her cell phone camera to take pictures of the plants.
There are Zinnias in many different sizes and colors. There are giant reds, oranges, lavender, yellow, and purple ones. These grow tall and are supported by stakes, so they do not topple over. They bloom all through the summer months, with bud after bud appearing after she cuts off the dead ones. Then there are the smaller button Zinnias with their whites, pinks, crimson and yellow flowers. There are also the multicolored ones, called Rainbow Magic, because each flower has splashes of different colors as if an artist brushed them over with several colors from his palette. However, Nana's pride is the giant lime green zinnia ... It is a new variety, and very rare. Nana is not sure how these green zinnias came to be in her garden. She pointed at them with the tip of her cane. She turned sideways to look in Suzilee's face, smiled, and said.
"I like to think that these are thank you gifts from my honey bees, for my fountain of sweet water and a garden full of pollen and nectars for them. I have never seen anything more beautiful, but I surely didn't plant any seeds. What do you think Suzilee?"
"I think you are right Nana. I like to receive surprise gifts too especially when they are wrapped in bright pretty papers. I keep all of the pretty gift wrap papers in my treasure box, under my bed.
There are many other types of flowers in the garden. While there are the rare ones that give Nana such pride, there are also the lowly Marigolds which appears in every size and color and give off a very strong fragrance. There are also Dahlias, Roses, Lilacs, Daisies and Pinks. Each one has its own little garden plot in Nana's garden. There are many varieties of Lilies such as the Callas, and the Day Lilies, which only bloom in the daytime hours. Nevertheless, Nana's joy maker is the Lily of the Valley, which gives off a very sweet perfume. Nana is very proud of her flower garden. Her close neighbors like to come and smell the dainty blooms as they sit on the bench for a friendly chat.
"Nana, why do you grow such a large garden?" asked Suzilee. She shielded her eyes with her hand from the sunlight as she waited on Nana to answer her.
Nana adjusted her apron then leaned upon her cane. She peered deeply into her grand-daughters eyes and asked.
"What is an old lady supposed to do? Just sit around and rock all day long? She reaches down to pinch off a dead leaf then continued talking.
I will continue to grow my garden until I am called up. Then I will fly away to the Land of Angels to rest for a long, long time."
"Where is the land of the Angels, Nana? And where are your wings?" Suzilee asked.
"Oh my child, I don't have them yet. Soon I will be getting them. Then I will climb the skies, just like the eagle you see over there, above the treetops. I will aim for the stars." Nana pointed to the top of the trees where one lone young bird was steadily trying to soar higher.
"Beyond the blue is the Milky Way, The Great Dipper, Orion, and galaxies without number. Some galaxies still do not have names. One day soon, I will make my home among them. No aches and pains for me there!" Nana rubbed her arthritic hand and smiled knowingly. Suzilee was puzzled. How would Nana fly? Why would she want to leave her beautiful flower garden and her loved ones?
"Come along child! Let's take a look at the Daisies over there."
"OK Nana," Suzilee said, as she followed Nana over to the daisies patch to look at the showy blooms. They were so dainty with their bright colors. Suzilee could not resist the urge to pick herself a little bunch. She brought the bunch to her nose to smell the sweet fragrances. A dusting of yellow powder fell all over her blouse. She could not brush the powder off. She was afraid of staining her clothes.
"Nana, "Suzilee called out, with a strange frown on her face. What is this yellow powder? It came off the flowers all over my blouse. I am sure my blouse is stained."
"Nothing to worry about child !" said Nana. It will wash right out. The yellow powders you see on the flowers are pollen grains. It is an important part of the flower and provides food for my garden friends."
Suzilee was pacified, but she was still curious about her Nana growing wings someday to fly away to the land of Angels, so she asked,
"Nana, are you truly going to grow wings someday?"
Nana did not answer. She had turned away at the sound of the familiar buzz, buzz, buzz, of the honey bees entering the garden to gather nectar from the flowers. There was a large swarm of honey bees headed for the fountain of sweet waters. "Here comes my favorite garden friends, Buzzy, the honeybees." exclaimed Nana excitedly.
Suzilee jumped. She was scared. She was surprised to see so many bees all at once.
"Stay calm Suzie dear, and don't move about. Don't scare my friends away. If you remain still, they will not be interested in you. "Suzilee grabbed her Nanas' arm tightly. She tried to steady herself to hide her fear.
Nana stroked her hair gently, bent towards her grand-daughter and gently continued.
"Don't you just love their striped jackets? See Suzie, they all have wings. Can you see how fast they move their wings? They move their wings thousands of times per minute. That is hard to believe. It is amazing, but true. That is why we hear the buzzing sound as they stoke the air with their wings." Nana turned from the bees and looked up at the sky again.
"Yes my dear Suzilee, One day I will get my wings for sure. We can talk about that some other time.
Nana took a step towards the fountain of sweet waters and the swarm of honey bees.
"Come along now! Let us watch them take a drink of my sweet water. Every evening before twilight, I put sweet water out. I mix cane sugar in tap water then I pour it in the fountain bath, so when the dew falls it releases a fragrance that attracts my garden friends, to come for a drink. They are welcome anytime. Sometimes they bring Zappy the Bumble Bee along." Nanas soothing words had caused Suzilee to lose her fear and relax.
"Nana, I can hear the buzzing sound as they flap their wings. Is that why you call them Buzzy?" She paused to take a breath. She was excited now. Suzilee continued,
"But Nana I don't hear any zap, zap, zappity zap. I want to see Zappy the Bumble Bee too. I have never seen a Bumble Bee, ever."
"Well child, it's too early in the morning for the Zappy to come for a drink. Zappy sleeps late. His name is Drone. Zappy the Bumble Bee is very lazy, and very slow like this old woman is. He is greedy. He eats too much each day so he grows fat. It is difficult for him to fly very far or go very high. But I am sure he will come for a drink later in the afternoon."
"Really! Nana? Is that a story you just made up for me?" Suzie laughed loudly. She liked time with Nana and being silly.
"I'll tell mommy about Zappy the lazy bumble bee." Suzilee giggled
"Maybe she will suggest some exercises for poor slow Zappy." "Mommy teaches those exercises at the Y and says that exercise cures all diseases."
Nana listened to her great granddaughter in silence and reflected on the good times she had spent as a young girl with her own grandmother. That was many moons ago, but still the memories were fresh and tender to her now.
"Suzie," Nana said, "The bumble bee is just as I said, both lazy and slow. He does two things every day. He eats a great deal and sleeps until the Queen Bee wants his company." She motioned to the sweet water. "He is also stingy, because he does not share the nectar that he gathers with the other bees in his hive. He is not a good soldier bee either. He does not help to protect the hive, from other intruders, because he does not have a sting pouch like the honey bees do."
Suzilee stopped and stared at her Nana for a few seconds then she said,
"Grand Nana, are you telling me riddles again? Is there really such a thing as a Queen Bee for sure?"
"Of course child, said Nana, I always tell the truth."
Suzilee sat on the bench in the garden and watched the honey bees buzz in to drink and then buzz away. She watched keenly in silence for a few minutes. It soon became clear to her that when some bees flew away several more would buzz into the garden to collect nectar, and get a drink from the fountain. She remained still and watched some more. They were doing the same thing. It was a pattern, or a code all the bees seemed to know."
"Nana, do you see how the bees seem to dance around a little then they fly up high? I think that they can dance." She marveled watching another group. "I wonder why they dance."
Nana pulled out a pair of old binoculars from her apron pocket and handed them to Suzilee.
"Here child, try these out. They are really quite old, but they are as clear as crystal, and just as good as the fancy ones I see in the magazines."
"Thanks Nana." Suzilee put the binoculars to her eyes and tried to focus.
Excerpted from "Buzzy The Honey Bee"
Copyright © 2017 Lesline Nembhard.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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