It Does Rain in Regina
August 30, 2006

Contrary to Popular Belief, it does rain in Saskatchewan. Or, perhaps I should say contrary to my belief it rains there. Since I moved to Vancouver, I've exaggerated the contrast between my two homes. In Vancouver it always rains, and in Saskatchewan it never rains. Well folks, during the Regina Folk Festival it did rain, so it was a good thing there was a good old fashioned waterproof dome tent under my canvas cover. Anna, who works at Neutral Ground, helped me pitch the tent and set up my table on the first afternoon of the festival. She left me to set up her tent (where she was selling handmade jewelry and purses) and wouldn't you know it, it started to rain big fat windy drops. I quickly pulled the canvas covering off the tent and ducked inside, along with my bee books and boxes. I huddled in the tent while lightening flickered to the north and thunder resonated in my chest.

The storm blew over in about twenty minutes. Summer storms in Saskatchewan are often like that. They are like a short twenty-minute play, starting with a humid pre-show, followed by darkening skies dropping like a curtain, building to a sturm und drang climax. The storm ends with a diminishing denouement, and the quiet pause after the bow, as if mother nature were waiting for applause. It's not like the persistent drizzle in Vancouver that starts in the night while you're half-dreaming it's there, fading up and down in volume all throughout the next day, week, or month.

The storm went backstage for a cloud change and I set up again and waited for visitors. I'm happy to report I had a fantastic time as Madame Dolittle, meeting people of all ages and sharing stories about bees and other pollinators. Conversations ranged from a few minutes to hour-long visits. I spent a fine time with a five-year-old named Megan. "You talk to the bees?" she said. I told her I did. "How do you do it?" she asked. I closed my eyes and meditated. That's how I do it," I said. "Okay." That was a good enough explanation for her. Megan loved my three-dimensional bumblebee pop-up book. I pointed out all the parts of the bee and showed her where the pollen clings to the hairs on the bees and the pollen baskets where the bee stores pollen for food. Megan made three messages for the bees. The first was an invitation to visit her garden. It said "Dear bees, please come to my mom's garden to help the flowers grow." This was written in her own preliterate scribbles and scrawls which she "read" to me. The next message had "good news" written in pink ink on one side, and "bad news" written on the other side in black. "Do you want the good news or the bad news?" she asked. "What's the bad news?" I asked, curious. "Don't you want the bad news?" She demanded. "All right, what's the good news?" "The good news is that I'm asking the bees to remind Santa to come to my house at Christmas and the Easter Bunny to come at Easter because I want some candy eggs." "The bad news is..." (and here she flipped the tag over to recite), "There was a frog and it grew and grew and grew and then it died." Here she stopped for a moment, closed her eyes, and ceased her jiggly wiggly five-year-old dance. What are you doing? I asked. "I'm telling the bees", she said. She gave me a spontaneous hug and danced away to her mother, like a butterfly zig-zagging its way across the grass. The idea of "telling the bees" had made its way into her imagination and taken flight.

There were some adults who were also immediately sympathetic to the idea of passing on messages to the bees. One woman with a three year old girl said "Is this a Celtic tradition?...because my mom's Irish and I've always loved bugs. I always try to release them outside when I find them at the office at work." Let's write a message to the bees, she said to her daughter. They sat down and wrote a note to the bees asking help to find their lost cat named "Noop".

Through the rain, wind and sunshine of the 2006 Regina Folk Festival, folks came and talked to Madame Dolittle and wrote messages to the bees. A big thank you to all those who participated and to all my friends and family who showed such warm hospitality and fed me delicious homemade meals. Special thanks to Anna and Jason for being such amiable helpers.