Connected

September 02, 2021

When I visited with the mayor several weeks ago, I noticed city hall had a drug disposal box located in the lobby.  It made sense since city hall also houses the police department.  We had left over drugs since Melissa’s dad died two years ago.  I did not know what to do with them, but I did know better than to either flush them or throw them into the landfill.  These dangerous chemicals tend to “travel,” especially when put into the water system.  Drop off facilities and businesses are registered with the US DEA to collect unused or expired medicines.  The collection sites safely and securely gather and dispose of unused or expired medicines and controlled substances.  There are various collection locations depending on the community.  Dropping our drugs in the collection box kept them out of the system.

As I was leaving city hall, I noticed the beautiful array of flowers blooming along the front of the building.  The vibrant colors of the Cockscomb (Celosia argentea var. cristata) made a dramatic display.  The species was likely originally native to India, where it was saved from extinction in cultivation by the religious significance attached to the variety by Indian, Burmese, and Chinese gardeners who planted it near temples.  The name cockscomb is used as the flower looks like the head on a rooster (cock).  The plants are resistant to most diseases and grow equally well indoors or out.  The perfect place is one with no shade and a well-drained soil, as the plant is susceptible to fungal diseases.  The front of city hall is an east facing building.  The cockscomb was doing well.

When I looked closer, I noticed a large bumble bee busily gleaning the flower for nectar.  The Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) is the most encountered bumblebee across much of eastern North America.  They can be found in the temperate forest regions of the eastern US, southern Canada, and the eastern Great Plains.  They are highly adaptable and can live in the rural areas, suburbs, and urban cities.  This adaptability makes them a great pollinator species, leading to an increase in their commercial use by the greenhouse industry, causing them to spread far beyond their distribution range.  They are considered one of the most important species of pollinator bees in the US.  North America’s bees are under attack from the Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia), the world’s largest hornet.  The “murder hornet” is native to temperate and tropical Asia, but individuals were found in the Pacific Northwest in 2019.  The first nest of 1500 hornets were located and eradicated last week.

Thoughts:  Like many things in life, today’s stories are connected.  Going to city hall led to the disposal box, going to the disposal box led to seeing the cockscomb, seeing the cockscomb led to the bee, and the bees are under attack by the hornets.  This is an illustration of how we are all connected by the increasing globalization of our planet.  Being connected has its drawbacks, as the virus spread to a pandemic less than two months after being identified.  Being connected also has benefits, as digitization and the internet provide research avenues impossible two decades ago and in part led to the rapid development of a vaccine.  Humans developed as social animals who need to feel connected.  Whether we do this by touch and intimacy or through social media, being connected is critical to our understanding of self.  Do the work.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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