Wednesday, January 22, 2020


It's the warmest New Year's Day I can remember, but as I recently shared with my wife, I can't remember things like weather from one year to the next anymore. I can't remember if I ever remembered such a thing as fleeting and uninteresting as the weather. Sometimes I record the temperature and the sunniness of a given day in one corner of the too infrequent entries in my beekeeping journal, if I remember. But sometimes, I don't.

New Year's Day is a good day for optimists, and I continue to be one. You imagine a whole year laid out before you. You schedule successes and celebrations. You anticipate the positive results of challenges that you don't yet see coming. You hope that this warm winter weather is a seasonal fluke, and not the harbinger of irreversible climate change. Optimists aren't naive, we're just hopeful.

Even pessimists find a reason to be joyous on January 1st. If nothing else, it's a milestone at which you can stop and turn around, look at the road behind you, and be glad it's behind you. If nothing else.

Optimism isn't foolish head-in-the-clouds dimwittedness, though my cantankerous coworkers would certainly disagree. It's the result of a constant accounting of experience, of failures and defeats, of missed opportunities and unexpected wins. This optimist recounts these ups and downs on a near hourly basis, likely the result of undiagnosed ADHD and a persistent feeling of having left a pot on the burner last night.

My bees did not survive the winter. I've lost two hives in two seasons. But I'll try again this spring. Each failure instructs. Maybe the hives swarmed, and the frozen bees in the deeps were just the remnants of the colony. Or maybe I starved them because I don't yet understand how to sustain bees through the single-digit colds of the mid-Atlantic. My beekeeping gloves are turning a mesmerizing shade of amber, and my hive tool is starting to look like an old tool. I like how old tools look. I look at my hands, and they look like old tools, too.

I ran two half marathons in two weeks last fall: one on asphalt, the other on earth. Trail running is fine, but it's not for me and my declining vision. Depth perception is important when navigating roots and rocks, and I still haven't had my glasses repaired since I fell face-first in the single track around Loch Raven. My mind is twenty but my body is twice that and some.

Being an optimist means compiling a list of things that you'll likely fail at over the next twelve months, and doing them anyway. So raise a glass of the mead you'd like to brew in the fall. We drink, dear friends, to future failures.