The Life and Death of Barry Bee Benson
It was a brief, but vital life that Barry Bee Benson, affectionately known as Bee Bee, lived. We gathered together to build her a custom coffin of clay, and a cork-boat fitted with Cottonwood’s leaf sails. Jane knit a paracord shroud and Alex pounded Bee Bee’s initials into a simple headstone. We biked to our sacred rock at Harvie’s Passage, along Bow River. Here we said our final parting words to Bee Bee. “She was a good pollinator, and never did anyone no harm.” We attempted to light Bee Bee’s funeral vessel, but the drizzle and cold overwhelmed our weak flame. It was time for her to go all the same. We hurried quickly after her, and held our breath as she twirled slowly through eddies. “All of the creatures have a place in the choir/ some sing low and some sing higher / some sing out loud from the telephone wire / clapping their paws, and fins, and wings” We clapped and sang till she met the Bow.
In her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks to the idea of the ‘grammar of animacy’. Recalling the animacy, or spirit, of all beings and speaking to addressing them accordingly. What happens when we see Willow, Cedar Wax Wing, and Admiral Butterfly as ‘she’, instead of ‘it’?
On our last day of the first week of Plein Air Outdoor Arts camp, the ‘grammar of animacy’ meant giving a small bee a proper (if not impromptu) Viking funeral.