Our Identity

April 7, 2008
By Sarah Goldwasser, Manassas, VA

Our Identity

The smell of honey from the nearby bee nursery drifted through the still air, combining with the rich, spicy scent of apples. Many of the red fruits lay rotting on the ground; it was only August, but the recent storm's winds had tumbled the poor trees of the orchard and knocked their bounties off, snapping the delicate stems and landing them, scattered, beneath the canopies.

It was under one such canopy that we were resting, a table cloth separating us from the sticky earth. Apples lay crushed all around and, probably, beneath us, their juices seeping into the soil and clinging to each blade of grass.

It was quiet and perfectly still. The odor of the fruit's sweet perfume seemed to be visible, rising off of the ground in hazy waves. It seemed to envelope us in its sickly sweet casing, serving as an impermeable barrier. It was as though we were on one level of the world; we were completely separated from the tier above us, where the fresh air hadn't been impregnated with the scent of apples.

If one listened closely, the only sound perceivable was the faint breathing of one comrade or another, or, perhaps, if one concentrated deeply, the low hum of the bees buzzing several hundred feet away behind their thick mesh fence of wire.

The bees were confined to their level just as we were to ours and the treetops to theirs. The twisted wire was hardly a barrier to the small insects, and yet only a scattered few could be glimpsed outside the nursery, perhaps feeding off of a daffodil or hovering about a patch of honeysuckle. Even then it was out of the ordinary to see such a bug away from its nursery.

The nursery, being so close, seemed to be the bee's natural home, albeit that they much more logically belong to nature. Once separated, however, the bees wouldn't ordinarily leave the safe haven of the farm, whose shelves were lined with hives and its grounds stacked with flora.

It was much the same for us. We looked, in that moment, as though we belonged to the tree stumps and the springy grass spread thinly with the juice of crushed apples. It was our habitat- our home, if we willed it. It would have been easy to physically stand and rejoin our previous level with the treetops, but for us to stay where we were was really just as well.

`Where we belonged was decided simply by where we were. It was easy to picture us among the scattered fruits, provided we were situated as in this way. For us to stand and travel- that required imagination. Our capabilities didn't really matter. It was our location that decided our fate.

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