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All the Buzz

image copyright Fred First

For the better part of a week while we had house guests, I blogged away the early mornings when I should have been out tending the garden. So much changes out there when the weather is warm. Or maybe, it is simply that, in our gardens, we move slowly, often squat on our haunches or kneel close to the earth, and pay very close attention to the lives of growing things. We note every nuance of swelling bud, elongating stem, and the difference in color of swollen plant ovaries that will become our food--in a way we seldom do outside our garden fences.

Yesterday, when I took the GeorgiaOkeefish image of a squash flower, I didn't know about squash bees. I learned that in my little research session that is my daily education in the ways of the world. So today, armed with ew imformation, I went back purposefully to note the difference between this bee and the sadly uncommon honey bee, and to distinguish male from female squash bee by appearance, behaviour and location.

You could clearly see the females, most often on the male flowers, gathering protein-rich pollen for their brood. Time after time, the quick-flying males would dart in for a quicky. The female, with her receptive parts uppermost, would kick up her back legs with each attempted mating, signifying in bee language "I've got a sick headache." As soon as one male would leave by the front door, another would sneak in the back. It is quite the redlight district there in the golden interior of a squash he-flower.

This morning, I noticed how many squash blossoms are already past their prime. Most have dropped their fused corona of petals and are going or gone to fruit. Since yesterday, the curved pollen-bearing anthers have muted from dark yellow to a bright ocre, possibly signifying to the bees "Last call. Bar and dating service closes in fifteen minutes." I doubt there will be any flowers at all by tomorrow.

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Comments

By coincidence, just at the very time you were posting this I was out in the garden photographing... bees (and other winged insects). And thinking to myself "I wish I could identify this a little better and understand its life rather more than just saying it's a bee". Thanks for the lesson.

Is it just coincidence that you've been writing so beautifully and enlighteningly - as here - since your recent bout of self-questioning about what this blog was doing now? I think maybe not; extraordinary how stating doubts is so often cathartic and energising.

Such a beautiful pic! Our squash blossoms mostly attract ants. lol

Do you eat the blossoms? You should...they're packed with nutrients and go for a premium around here in the farmer's markets. Stuffed blossoms are a summer staple in the Greek diet...here's a good hot weather recipe as you don't have to heat the oven and it makes a great side dish for lamb or a garlicky roast chicken...taken from Sofi Lazarides Konstantinides, "Sofi's Aegean Kitchen" a cookbook I highly recommend, a lighter, healthier version of traditional Greek fare.

Kolokytholouloutha Yemista (stuffed squash blossoms...try saying that five times!)

18 lg Zucchini blossoms
1 c Long-grain white rice
3 tb minced fresh italian parsley
3 tb Finely chopped fresh mint
1 sm onion, finely chopped
1/3 c olive oil
1 lg Ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, & coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 grinds of black pepper
3/4 c Warm water

Wash the zucchini blossoms gently and drain them. In a small bowl,combine the rice, parsley, mint, and onion. Add the oil, tomato, and salt and pepper and mix well. Using a small teaspoon, stuff the blossoms with the rice mixture. Arrange them one next to the other in a shallow saucepan, add warm water, and cover. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat until the rice is cooked, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

I like to add 2-3 oz of firm feta cut into small dice as a variation. You can also add a little cooked chicken, diced green olives, diced red pepper or as the Greeks do; an anchovy fillet to each blossom...which is a very bold flavor and may be an acquired taste.

If you have fresh chives use them to tie the blossoms after stuffing...adds another layer of flavor and looks very grommet.

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