Reflections on lavender, white-tailed bumblebees and Brexit

Of lavender and British bees …

Thank goodness for lavender and white-tailed bumblebees. As the UK drifts toward Brexit with a strange sort of national complacency, and the social divisions and lack of strategic approach become increasingly evident and glaring, the lavender and white-tailed bumblebees in my backyard provide me with solace.

White-tailed bumblebee

Lavender and a white-tailed bumblebee in my garden

Each summer we have a lavender patch in our garden. And, from time to time I take a few minutes to stop and meditate nearby, enjoying the herbaceous atmosphere and watching the bees at work. I admire their industry and collaboration. Bees do seem to proceed joyfully in this labour. They simply love lavender. Here in the UK, I have grown to eagerly await the annual return of the white-tailed bumble bees. They are giant and awkward and focused in their efforts.

… and Brexit

This year, my lavender and white-tailed bumblebee meditations have helped me keep centred in the face of the national political craziness. As the tone of the Brexit discussions becomes darker, leading pundits are speaking of national humiliation (e.g., Gideon Rachman in the FT, 10 July 2017) and “calamity” (e.g, Martin Wolf in the FT, 13 July 2017).

While I do think that remaining in the EU is the best option economically and socially, the fact that Brexit is advancing should not yet lead to despair. It is too soon to give up on efforts to limit the damage. But, time is pressing. With just 20 months to go before Brexit (March 2019), avoiding the worst will require a strategic approach and urgent action. Where do the Brits want the UK to be in 2 years?

There are marginally costly Brexit scenarios like staying in the European Economic Area (single market) and there are costly cliff-edge, car-crash scenarios of a hard Brexit with no deal with the EU. Let us not wring our hands and watch the car crash unfold before us. Advocacy and action are required now.

But, meanwhile, the lavender and bees are here to keep things Zen for me. After another crazy week, I am hanging out in the garden and staying centred. And, thank goodness, if we do go over the cliff edge, then I know they will be here to help take out the sting.

Fine British white-tailed bumblebees at work in my garden

Your thoughts?