You’d think I’d be over it by now–all the excitement I feel over the Maine State Beekeepers’ Association’s annual conference. Like a kid at Christmas I wait all year for the day to arrive when I can make the pilgrimage to the meeting location. And in the vast state of Maine where cities and towns are spread far apart, separated by miles and miles of wilderness, rolling farm-lands, and winding rivers–it is indeed something of a pilgrimage. From my remote home in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, I go to pay homage to my craft–to the bees–the bees who have chosen me to work with them, to guide them through these perilous times as a bee. I go with joy and love in my heart. And I am–ECSTATIC.
My last two trips to the convention have taken me to the great city of Portland, which lies along the coast at the very southern tip of our state. It takes me a good two hours to make that trip. This year however, the Penobscot County chapter has stepped up to host the event–that in itself is a bit of a controversy among beekeepers across the state. Since most of our state’s population resides in the southern part of the state, more of Maine’s beekeepers are also in the southern part of the state. However we still have many fine beekeepers in the western, central, and northern parts of Maine, some can make the trip south to attend the annual conference–like myself, who make the commitment to go wherever it is held–but for others, the distance cannot be justified. This meeting is for them, and I hope that those beekeepers come out in droves to attend, to unite in solidarity for beekeepers in the rest of the state. For me the trip is still an hour and a half from home.
By all rights, I don’t have the time or funds to attend this year. But I don’t go far from my family, I’m dedicated to their well-being and I work hard on the farm. I feel also a sense of obligation–obligation to my craft and to the bees, as I previously mentioned, but also obligation as President of the Somerset County chapter of Maine State Beekeepers–to represent our local beekeepers. Sure–the convention is a once-a-year treat for me, but it is also a responsibility that I take seriously.
So today I am making preparations for my pilgrimage. I will prepare my family for my twelve-hour absence–prepping stew for meals, gathering my supplies for the journey, and making sure I have packed my notebook, pens and camera with fresh batteries. I’m a compulsive note-taker, and I will be writing about the day not only for this blog, but also for the MSBA’s bi-monthly publication “The Bee-Line” (this will also be my third time covering the event for the journal). I’m borrowing a car, since it is less than ideal to drive the gas-guzzling Runamuk-truck all the way to Bangor and the Hamton Inn–it’s good thing my in-laws love me! They’ve let me use their car the last two years.
I’m anxious and excited, and I can’t wait for what tomorrow will bring! Stay tuned for all the details!