Saturday, 19 September 2009

Out Hunting: Bees, the Catechism and the Oral Object

I found the papery remnants of a beehive when I was out wandering over the fields the other day. After I found it - and rather unwisely perhaps - I looked around for the place it had come from; spotting it, I stuck my head into the hedge where the rest of the hive was hidden. Perhaps I thought that there would be a few bee-free combs full of golden, glistening honey in there that I could pluck out with my bare hands? I'm sure that I had something like that in mind; I love honey, love sweet things, love anything, in fact, that I can cram into my mouth and, when it comes to getting hold of stuff with which to fill my cake-hole, I rarely let anything as trivial as moderation or common sense stand in my way.

What I found, though, when I stuck my head in the hedge was a hole in the ground filled up with more of these old comb fragments and a few disconsolate bees ambling around on top of them. Perhaps, it occurred to me at this point, there might well be a more lively hive beneath the remains of this older one? Perhaps, if there was, the inhabitants might not take kindly to my great ugly mush hovering over them? With this thought, I pulled my head out of the hedge and made off.

Then I sat under a tree for an hour waiting for pigeons and thinking - with little enthusiasm - of the vegetarian meal which awaited me at home if I didn't bag any birds. I'd taken a little book out with me so as to have something to read during these times when I'm staking out a tree in the hope of harvesting wood -pigeons. Opening it, I found myself reading these words by the Dominican friar Herbert McCabe:

We exercise the virtue of temperance in the matter of eating and drinking by, characteristically, taking and enjoying what is sufficient for our health and for the entertainment of our friends.

We may fail (in the exercise of temperateness in this area) by indifference to the enjoyments of the table; by eating and drinking that is totally divorced from either friendship or the requirements of health; by eating what is merely superficially attractive at the expense of a reasonable diet, by drug abuse and by all forms of gluttony.

After about three-quarters of an hour and two missed shots I gave up on the pigeons and went to sit under another tree in the hope of rabbits. The light was fading now and, as it did, so grew my dissatisfaction at the idea of a meatless meal. I must have meat! I thought, I must!

After another half-an-hour, and in near-full darkness by then, a rabbit hopped out from a burrow about five feet away from me and sat there with its back to me. With the scope on the rifle I had no chance of getting a shot at a target that close and so all I could do was sit there and watch it. After a few moments, still not having noticed me, it ran away up the field and kept on running until it was too far away for a shot.

In complete darkness, then, I went home and - with much satisfaction since fruitless hours in search of meat had left me with a great appetite - ate my, in truth, perfectly pleasant vegetarian supper.


  1. What a good post! Very much enjoyed the McCabe - wisdom.

  2. theraschoutdoorchronicles19 September 2009 at 18:04

    Uhmmm, I think that perhaps what you found might have been an abandoned and mercifully empty wasps nest. But you say you saw bees about the remains, so perhaps it was a hive suffering from colony collapse disorder...

    And I might add, that was a great quote.

    Best regards,

  3. Thanks LSP!

    Hiya Albert,
    I'm sure it's you that are right about this! This is a good example of the level of nature-reporting accuracy that can be expected of the Rabbit Stew blog, that's to say: almost none!

  4. The Suburban Bushwacker21 September 2009 at 23:28

    Great post HH, really evocative