Monday, May 18, 2009

Today's Tension-Filled Adventure

Yesterday, I went to a friend's house and picked up some pots so I can start the chiles and tomatillos and basil I want to grow on my small balcony. With any luck, I'll be able to harvest a good number of chiles; I've never grown tomatillos, but I like them and there's no way I'll find any here, even canned. The basil, of course, goes without saying, and they don't sell the plants in the quantity they do in German supermarkets.

Thing is, you need soil for this endeavor, and that I did not pick up yesterday.

So I went out onto the Comédie, where they were scooping up the beach-volleyball sand and erecting pavillions for the Comédie du Livre, the big book fair that happens every year, which will start on Friday. I was headed to the line of florists' kiosks at the start of the Esplanade, where I hoped to score some potting soil.

There wasn't any, and I turned almost instinctively to go to Inno, where I'd seen bags for sale, but then I remembered that there's a shop specialzing in pots and seeds on the rue St. Guilhem, a more mom-and-pop place. I'm (as usual) desperately broke, but somehow the idea of not giving the Monoprix empire all my money was appealing. So I turned on my heel and headed back across the Comédie, past McDonald's, and into the rue de la Loge.

Everyone was standing still. I saw a bunch of policemen, just standing around in a sort of circle, and in the middle, a fire truck, out in the middle of the street. It took a minute for me to figure out what was going on.

To celebrate spring, the city has hung planters with colorful flowering plants on the wires connecting one side of the street to the other, the same wires which hold the Christmas decorations in season. And, on the bottom of one of these planters was a very large swarm of bees. I say large. I mean, bigger than your head. There were two guys in the fire-truck's cherry-picker, both with beekeepers' helmets on, one with a fire department shirt, the other with a sort of farmer's clothing.

I walked around to the other side of the action, uphill, to get a better view. The cherry-picker rose, slowly, slowly, and a box with a number on the side was produced. But...they were too far away from the swarm. The cherry-picker had to be drawn in, the braces on the side of the truck withdrawn, and the truck very slightly repositioned. Then it was time to try again.

This time they managed to get right under the bottom of the planter, where the swarm was. The beekeeper (wearing gloves, I hasten to add) swept the bees into the box with a brush. Other bees swarmed around, but the beekeeper kept looking at the planter, to make sure he hadn't missed the queen. No, she was in the box, apparently, so he put the lid on and the fireman twiddled some controls and the cherry-picker retreated until the two men could climb down the ladder and into the street. There, the beekeeper fastened a belt around the box of bees, and put them in the back of a very funky truck I hadn't seen until then, parked just behind the fire truck.

I went up the rest of the hill, bought my potting soil, and when I came back down, there were still bees zipping around the planter.

Such excitement, and it's only Monday!

1 comment:

  1. You have the most amazing pictures. The artichokes look surreal and why don't they ever have purple flowers on them here? I'm off to the Whip In to find that wonderful French wine that you brought over. Have a great weekend!


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