Essay I wrote in mid 2007 on an older website:
I will be grandpa in 3 months.
As this event finds its way into my mind, some memories of my childhood, memories of my gransparents I didn't even know I had, are resurfacing from my subconscious.
My grandpa had a small homestead farm. I loved it when my parents would take me to visit him. He had ducks, chickens, goats (they were smart and fun) and a pig, a big fat dirty pig (our favorite of course). The farm animals were fun and dociles, but I prefered going in the fields full of wild weeds, hearing the bees buzzing around. There was an incredible amount of different kinds of bees, going from one flower to the other. And there was a pond (from a WWII bomb) where I could watch the frogs. At night, they would sing, and it was really nice to see the stars, watch the bats, and listen to the frogs. These are fond moments of my early childhood (I was less than 10) that still bring tears to my eyes.
I don't have ducks and goats and pigs to show my Grandson, so I hope he will like the frogs and the bees that visit my yard.
I hope they will still visit my yard. Will they?
Instead, I may find myself pollinating my fruit trees by hand, with a small brush, flower by flower. My grandson may want to help me. So I will have to explain to him that the trees make flowers first, then the flowers become apples, cherries and peers. But for that to happen, we must mix the pollen from one flower to the other. The tree can't do it himself, we have to help him.
If my granson is curious, and I am sure he will be, he may ask "How come the tree can't do it himself?".
So I will have to tell him that the fruit trees developped a companionship with small insects we called bees. The bees would feed on the nectar at the center of the flowers, and in return, they would mix the pollen between the flowers, so that the flowers would become fruits. The bees pollinated millions of trees, allowing them to produce billions of apples, cherries, and other fruits that we would eat. The trees made their flowers colorfull so that the bees new where the nectar was.
The bees were very good to the trees and to us, but one day, they started to disappear. Hundreds, thousands, then millions of bees disappeared. Now they are gone, and we have to help the trees make the fruits.
If my grandson comes to visit me on a Spring night, we would see the stars and watch the bats. But I would miss the frogs singing. So I would have to tell him that we used to hear the frogs singing in the spring nights. Now watching the stars and the bats without hearing the frogs singing, it's like watching a movie without the sound.
The frogs were very good to us. We even used them to make medication for sick people. Every region had its own kind of frog, they were very different, their songs were different too.
I will have to tell him that one day, the frogs started to get sick, and disappear all around the world.
Now most of them are gone, and when Spring comes, we miss the songs of the frogs.
So my Grandson may eventually ask:
"So Grandpa, if the bees and the frogs were so good to us, why did they go, why didn't we help them?"
Update April 2009: My Grandson is now almost 2 and a joy in my life.
Regarding bats, well, they may be gone soon as well:
Now if frogs and bats populations crash, we will have an explosion of the insect populations, since bats and frogs are their biggest predators. Worrysome!