Our Bees, Ourselves

An excellent op-ed ran in the New York Times recently (thanks to Lisa for the alert), and I want to make sure it doesn’t pass you by …

Our Bees, Ourselves: Bees and Colony Collapse


Mark Winston, biologist and director of the Center for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University, eloquently explains how the intricate relationships between bees, pesticides, and nature’s diversity are irrefutable indicators of human health and societal stability.

“There is a lesson in the decline of bees about how to respond to the most fundamental challenges facing contemporary human societies,” Winston writes. “We can best meet our own needs if we maintain a balance with nature—a balance that is as important to our health and prosperity as it is to the bees.”

We have much to learn from the bees. But then, we knew that, didn’t we? The question is: Will the great hive of humanity take their lessons to heart?


Image from the Child’s Coloured Gift Book with One Hundred Illustrations, 1867, via Open Library

I’m looking forward to reading Mark Winston’s forthcoming book, Bee Time: Lessons From the Hive, due to be released next month.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I read this article last week as well and thought to myself that we still have so much to learn from the bees. Is their colony collapse like the dead canary in the coal mine? Are we refusing to see the truth and doing our usual excuse making to explain the blunt truth? Yes, adding Mark Winston’s book to the list of must read.

  2. Karlyne says:

    I love the “B” illustration; it’s such a beautiful picture of what we ought to be doing.

    As for your question about whether or not humanity’s hive will respond… I’m an optimist by nature, but I’m beginning to wonder about the great mass of indifference and ignorance around me. But I’ll keep hoping!

    • MaryJane says:

      Many years ago, there was a nationwide organization of medical doctors who formed a group called Physicians for Social Responsibility. Their focus was nuclear weaponry. They were an active bunch and brought Hiroshima survivors to our country to tour college campuses and speak about their experience. I traveled with them up and down the East Coast to lend a hand. One of the men lost his entire family. Half of his body (and face) was terribly disfigured from the blast. At one of the question/answer sessions, a woman stood up to say to the panel of doctors something like, “It’s madness and can’t possibly be stopped, I feel so hopeless.” His reply has been my clarion call ever since. “Perhaps, but in that moment, I want to be able to turn to my children and say, “I did everything I could.'”

      I’ve always acted on the belief that any social change work I participate in isn’t a function of whether or not we (I) can accomplish it. It’s a function of it being the right thing to do. (It’s very freeing not to attach to an outcome. That just gets downright discouraging at times.) I want to be able to say to MYSELF, I did everything I could.

      • Winnie Nielsen says:

        Well said !! That victim showed true wisdom and I will try to follow that vision when I get discouraged and start to fell hopeless.

  3. MaryJane, surely a life changing moment for you when you heard what that survivor had to say. I love your take on that : “I want to be able to say to MYSELF, I did everything I could.”. That is the best advice I have heard in ages.

  4. Nancy Coughlin says:

    A wonderful mantra. If each one of us “did what we could” I can’t begin to imagine all the good that would floe over this earth. I also use another mantra that has been part of my life as long as I can remember: “may my daily contacts with others be of a positive nature.”

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Summer Defined

What I love about summer is the absence of schedules. And long days outside doing whatever you want to do. Obviously, so do my kids. How about waking up in the morning and deciding to put on a Halloween monkey costume three sizes too small? Here’s my Mia in full bed head with dirty feet, playing for hours with her dolls and ponies …

Photo Jul 10, 10 08 20 AM

Summer is in full swing!

Photo Jul 10, 10 00 42 AM

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Oh Meg, this looks like my backyard scene 26 years ago!! My little Jessica, with her blond curly hair, and her sister, with wavy strawberry red/blonde hair, would play for hours outside with their My Little Pony and Breyer horses. There were “farms” created and “mudpie pie” mashes from the backyard dirt too. And I believe I see a little yellow dinosaur??? Yep, there were always a few favorite dinosaurs in the mix at our house as well. We also had a large tyrannosaurus rex and alligator that used to wear the doll clothes as my girls preferred them to the actual doll. Instead of a monkey outfit, Jessica used to dress up regularly in my old ballet recital tutu which she claimed one Halloween and wore until the tulle fell apart!

    One word of caution: This led, I believe, to a serious many year onset of “Horse Fever” in both girls requiring us to trade up Breyers for a large pony and a horse. Then, instead of hours of backyard play, there were hours of barn life with their friends. We live in town so this meant lots of driving back and forth and carpooling for years. We were never so happy as to buy Kelley a truck when she turned 16 so she could tote herself and sister out to the barn, haul hay, feed, and tack! So add truck to the list of expenses. But, it is all good and they learned a lot about animals and had many a night sleeping in the pastures with friends under the stars resting their head on their horses neck! Oh, and that comes with the ownership too: overnights mean hauling your pony or horse over to the friends house for a sleepover and endless hours trail riding and bareback riding. And be prepared for Santa to make visits to these 4 legged friends as well and leave stockings bulging with goodies! Just sayin’.

    Enjoy your carefree summer days!!

    • Megan says:

      Oh Winnie, I love these images of your years past! Trex and alligators should most certainly be in doll clothes and sleepovers with four-legged friends does sound like true-blue farmgirls. Ah, the adventures of little girls. 🙂

  2. When I was Mia’s age, in the mid 50’s, I hated dolls but loved stuffed animals, which I dressed in all my doll’s clothes. And I also dressed our real live animals in doll and baby clothes also. Even my, gulp, pet alligator, the “greatest gift of all” from my crazy Uncle Loren. He was also the one to give me hand tooled red cowboy boots, very rare indeed in rural southern Maryland. The alligator was actually mailed from Florida, and my mother was furious. It got really tame and I actually could play with it like a doll if I gently rubbed it belly until it got sleepy. Needless to say , one day the alligator ” disappeared”. I don’t know what my parents actually did with him, but they were kind to animals, so my guess is he was let go in a nearby pond or stream. Lord knows ,he’s probably some 25 foot giant now. ( they do live kinda forever)

    • Megan says:

      It must be a farmgirl thing to dress an alligator in doll attire. I would not be too keen on a pet alligator either. Maybe I’ll get Mia the stuffed kind. I love that the gator mysteriously disappeared.

  3. Sharon D. says:

    Oh Meg! Thank you for totally making my day! Mia is just too precious 🙂 I am so glad that you snapped this photo of her. The photo reminds me of a picture my parents took of my little brother brushing his teeth in his Yogi Bear costume 🙂

    Thanks for sharing Winnie 🙂 I loved reading about Jessica and her sister.

  4. Terry Steinmetz says:

    And that’s what summer should be all about!

  5. Eileen says:

    This is beautiful! And as it should be for children in the summer!

  6. Daniele says:

    Ah, I remember those days-not a care in the world:)

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Project Paint

I have one of those beautifully sturdy dining table and chairs from another era. One with multiple leaves that extend the reach of the table to seat 20+ people for holidays. But by beautiful, I’m referring to its quality. Not its appearance.

In fact, I’ve been saying since I got it that I couldn’t wait to paint it. Well, I’m finally about to be less talk and more action. Any day now I’ll be painting my dining table, leaves, and all the chairs.

Photo Jul 08, 9 02 57 PM

I was so excited to come home to a pile of paint and wax samples on my front stoop. Of course, they actually came in a box via UPS, but they were waiting next to my trusty milk cooler and dirty red cowboy boots. The cooler is for the days when I’m not at the farm to pick up my milk in person. And, randomly, my  boots are sitting out for a friend to stop by and borrow for a country singing gig (she has a stunning voice). The randomness of it all just makes me smile. And the notion that I’m finally going to tackle this paint project has me almost giddy.

I will, of course, keep you posted. 🙂

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Megan, I cannot wait to see what these cans create when you are finished! In my mind, chalk paint is the stuff you use to create a chalkboard anywhere so this idea to use for a large table and chairs really has me intrigued. Plus, there are different colors which will be interesting. Please do post your finished product for us to see. I bet it is going to be awesome!

  2. Good for you megan, now maybe I will spurred ( spurred= cowboy boots, get it? ) to action myself. For the 2 years I have lived at my new farmette I have been meaning to paint all my old wicker furniture this wonderful shade of Manet green and well there they sit all white and crummy looking. I even have the paint waiting to be applied, no more excuses. Keep us filled in please on your project.

    • Megan says:

      Go for it, Lisa! Although, the old funky white sounds good too. But I love to paint, it’s like vacuuming. I love the sound of all the stuff I’m vacuuming up and I love stepping back from a freshly painted project complete. Have fun!

  3. Karlyne says:

    Can’t wait to see the pictures!

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This rose reminds me of the rose bush my mom had for years in our yard. It was a gift to her from my oldest sister one year and it grew into this huge bush that always had a bounty of red roses that looked like these shown here. Mom took stems and grew new tiny bushes that she gifted to countless friends and neighbors. Who knows how many of those bushes are still looking as beautiful as this photo?

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Strawberries are on!

One of our favorite families from town came out Monday to raid our strawberry patch. This is the first wave of berries from our ever-bearing patch. So S-W-E-E-T, just like the girls who came to fill their freezer.



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    You can never have enough strawberries! Last weekend we went blueberry picking as it is peak season for those delectable berries down here. Strawberries and blueberries together? Pretty close to perfection if you ask me!

  2. Debbie Fischer says:

    Oh, how I love fresh, organic strawberries, so yummy. I could live on strawberries and watermelon alone!

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Stress Relief

Back in the Raising Jane (Aug/Sept 2008) issue of my magazine, we featured a wonderful musician named Jo Davidson. Jo recently e-mailed us a link to a YouTube video with some of her photos set to piano solo music she wrote. Jo says, “Feel free to share with anyone who could use a calm break!” Take a minute or two out of your busy day to watch the video below as your cares melt away …

Read Jo’s original feature in the following post.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:


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Jo Davidson: City Girl with Farmgirl Soul

Jo Davidson is a New York City-based musician whose songs have been praised as “the musical equivalent of Monet’s Tiger Lilies.”


At first glance, Jo Davidson appears to be the quintessential city girl. Take a moment to listen, though, and you’ll hear a deeper story. A multi-talented musician, composer, and instrumentalist, Jo makes her home in New York City, but her heart is rooted in wilder places. “The great thing about the City is that you are free to be out of the box. The pace is exciting and hedonistic, and it has a distinct pulse.” At the same time, she embraces her need to connect with the natural world for a sense of peace and creativity. “There is nothing more inspiring than nature,” Jo tells me. “It is the thread woven into everything we create.”

Jo’s music has appeared in many movies, television shows, and is played on top radio stations nationwide. She was featured on an Oprah compilation CD, and her music has been recorded by artists such as Meat Loaf. Her CDs include Kiss Me There, The Simply Said Sessions and two soul-stirring instrumental albums, Tell the Story and Merry Christmas & Happy New York.

Jo is also a photographer and hosts her own online radio show called Zentertainment Talk Radio. “It’s all about exploring possibilities and inspiring others with new ways of thinking and being,” she says. This show was born out of Jo’s own personal struggle with an illness called CFIDS/ME (Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome/Myalgic Encephaloyelitis). “It is my way of making something possible for myself when many other paths at the moment are not.”

Zentertainment Talk Radio features interviews with best-selling authors, healers, environmental activists, and others who have overcome and learned through adversity. “This is a place to laugh, heal, learn, be inspired, and get connected.”


If that’s not farmgirl spirit, I don’t know what is! That’s why Jo was naturally drawn to MaryJanesFarm. “MaryJane keeps us connected. Her magazine appeals to the part of me that wants to slow down, that wants to live in sync with the seasons. I made biscuits using MaryJane’s Budget Mix, and my whole family agreed that they were the best biscuits in the world. MaryJane even makes me want to iron, and you have NO idea how big that is! Making a difference in the world really can start with one person. MaryJane is such an example of this.”

And making a dream come true starts with taking one step. “Even if you can only see what is right in front of you, take that one step. The future is made up of a bunch of moments called NOW. The sun sets, the sun rises—always, it rises. And in the morning, we have biscuits!”

You can listen to Zentertainment Talk Radio anytime at Zentertainment.org. While there, you can also listen to clips of Jo’s songs and order her CDs. Jo posts listeners’ stories, photos, poems, and quotes on her website, and she encourages all farmgirls to share.


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I love this! What a fantastic story and testimony to you MaryJane. It is really proof that Farmgirl is a matter of the heart….and a few biscuits made with MaryJane’s Budget Mix! I wonder if she was wearing an apron?

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