A few weeks (or was it months?) ago, I sat at a little diner with Amy. It’s rare that I get to spend time with her anymore because I’m staying with my father so much. I had messaged her that day — “I’m going to be in Greene this afternoon. Do you have any time?”
We sat and talked for two hours, just sharing our lives with each other. Have I ever mentioned how much I love Amy? The openness and honesty of our conversations is always so refreshing.
In the course of our little tête–à–tête, Amy told me about a paper she was working on for a class she was taking.
“It’s a pretty big project,” she said. “I have to write a symbol paper.”
“What’s a symbol paper?” I asked.
“It’s a paper about a symbol,” she said.
Frankly, I’ve never been good at symbolism.
When I took a Flannery O’Connor class last year, we had to read “Good Country People.” In it (spoiler alert), the main character, Hulga, has her wooden leg stolen by smarmy salesman. It turns out the leg was a symbol for something — I don’t even remember — but the whole time I thought it was just a leg.
I recently finished Ted Dekker’s Martyr’s Song in which ravens circle frequently and a dove alights at opportune times. Evil and good — that symbolism was a little too blatant for me. It felt forced.
Amy had chosen bees as her symbol. She and her husband have a hive, and she told me about all the places bees crop up in literature and art.
Suddenly, I was seeing bees everywhere.
In the dead of winter, of course, so they weren’t the live, buzzing, stinging, gathering pollen-and-nectar variety, but there they were, tucked into pictures in so many of the children’s books I had rescued. A bee seems to add a touch of realism to any garden picture.
I started collecting bees, too, along with my rabbit pictures from books. Bees show up in my cards with some frequency now.
But it’s prudent that I leave the symbolism aspect to Amy.
The card above is one of the first I made with bees in it. The big bee in the lower right corner (and the word “buzz”) is from Ezra Jack Keats’ book Over in the Meadow. The big splash of flowers are from a pop-up book that had been discarded because, as is the true fate of most pop-up books, it no longer popped, but was ripped on nearly every page. The other two flowers — the purple one with the bee visiting, and the yellow one behind — are from books that I forgot to make note of. Dear illustrators, please forgive me.