The bookstore for the Rochester Institute of Technology was a five minutes drive from last night’s motel, so I stopped there on my way to the interstate. In five minutes of browsing, I found Bumble Bees of North America by Paul Williams, et al. I’m fascinated with Hymenoptera (bees and wasps) to begin with, and as the first sentence of the book says, “Everybody likes bumblebees.” At every rest stop during today’s drive I read about bumblebees, genus Bombus, and every bit of it was fascinating reading; though I was discouraged to learn that distinguishing some Bombus species requires looking at details like the structure of male genatalia and learning terms like “midleg basitarsus distal posterior corner.”
The book about bumblebees was the only interesting part of today’s drive; I had no time to stop anywhere along the way, because I planned to meet my uncle in the mid-afternoon. But the visit with my uncle was well worth the boring drive. We had a long talk, mostly about the younger members of the extended family, we ate dinner together, and then before I went back to the motel we called my cousin E. to ask her about the recent death of cousin C. He had had an unpleasant illness, and his death came more quickly than expected. This call was a somber end to what was otherwise an upbeat visit; but this is simply part of the experience of upper middle age; people that you’ve known for decades start to die off; and of course the number of such deaths will only increase, and their pace accelerate, and the thing to do (I can see from watching people like my uncle) is to acknowledge the deaths but not let them take over your sense of being; to keep the focus of one’s attention on growth and life rather than on death and decay.
Now I really have to get to bed early, so I can get on the road at a decent hour tomorrow morning. But first I want to read some more about bumblebees.