Picture this

Now that it’s spring, we all know what a young man’s fancy turns to – the inadequacy of his photography skills.

Oh, wait … that what my fancy turns to. There’s just no answering for young men.

I just got back from a ten-day trip (I was in Kenya, but that’s another story), and I missed most of the winter-to-spring transition. Things were only beginning to thaw when I left, and were full-out thriving when I came home.

It’s an annual miracle, when the perennials come back to life. We’ve got rhubarb and tarragon and sorrel, all showing green. The oregano, thyme, and sage managed to survive. There are buds on the raspberries and the beach plums. The sugar snap peas and radishes I planted before I left are sprouting. And I’d like to show you pictures of all of them.

But I’ve learned my lesson about this. In my hands, photos of spring all look the same: a swath of soil with a little green thing in the middle.

I find this disheartening, because there was a time when I was a decent photographer. OK, it was the Pleistocene Era, back when I was in college, but you’d think some vestige of what I learned would have tucked itself away in a dark corner of my then-plastic brain.

No such luck. Swath of soil. Little green thing.

So I’m giving up on the plants and moving on to another great miracle of spring – the bee hive. And this one is a miracle because, for the very first time, we have gotten a colony through the winter. And by ‘we,’ as is almost always the case, I mean ‘Kevin.’

Back in the fall, to both protect the hive from the winds that come sweeping across our lake and to try and raise the temperature, Kevin put a mini-hoophouse over it. Not only did it protect the hive, it saved us from having to dig it out as the snow accumulated. And then, as winter finally waned, we saw the first signs of a live hive: a few bees flying at the warmest part of the warmest days.

Of course, you never know if the queen survived until you see eggs. And you don’t see eggs until you open the hive properly and pull out some frames. Yesterday, that’s what we did, and were gratified to see several frames of capped brood. We have a survivor.

But my pictures of the bees aren’t any better than my pictures of the plants. The hive is a big white box. The bees are little black dots.

And then there are the ducks. At this time of year, we have a great variety – mallards, buffleheads, mergansers. They’ve got iridescent colors and crazy mohawks and garish patterns. But, in my photographs, they look like … ducks.

I know people who take really good photographs. Ken Thomas, Jen Yu, Holly Heyser, I’m talking to you. I look at those photographs and think, “how hard can it be?” And then I go out and get another hundred shots of swaths of dirt with little green things.

Hard. It can be hard.

So you’re just going to have to take my word for it.