Often I see an imbalance in my students in the classroom. To learn and develop in any subject, two things are needed; knowledge and confidence. Too often my students have too much of one and too little of the other. Over-confidence without knowledge is dangerous, but the reverse is frustrating. Half a teacher’s job is to slowly, and delicately, build our pupil’s belief in themselves while realising it can be shattered so easily. If I am being honest, I have to admit that my own balance in the learning curve is weighted down by too much confidence, with the exception of fruit trees.

When faced with a fruit trees I really do not know what I am doing. I know they need pruned but I have a deep seated fear of killing the tree. It feels so wrong to let me loose with a set of loppers on a tree that must be decades old. Over a year ago I read the books about pruning fruit trees. I read dusty old books found in second hand book shops and shiny new books dispatched from the monstrous book machine that is Amazon. I read and absorbed. I looked at the diagrams and I inspected the trees with the book in hand. I did all this before taking the loppers in hand and…… doing nothing. Fear gripped me and my own confidence drained away as I approached the trees.

Last spring I watched the oldest of these fruit trees suffer. It bloomed and began to blossom at the edges of its old branches until a cruel set of winds blew through the end of spring. The tree was too stretched out with its untidily long branches, the leaves began to curl and die. In the summer it found the energy to recover a little, but it was clear that it was suffering, and it was my fault.

This morning I decided to go for it. Over confidence can be brutal, but then again; confidence must be gained by experience. I grabbed the loppers, and the ladders, and the wood saw! I threw myself into it and the plum tree did not look like itself by the end of it. Time will tell.

Later in the morning I found out some good news. As it was such a lovely spring day the bees took advantage of it. They were very active with lots of big wheeling and spiralling flights around the hives. This is a sign that some of the bees were learning the hives location. This, in itself is a good sign; however the really exciting sight was that of big wads of pollen being brought into the hives in large amounts. Lots of pollen means lots of baby bees to be fed, which probably means that both hives contain healthy laying queens. Now that temperature of spring, and my bee fever, is beginning to rise, my mind is drifting to the characters of the seasons. The willow is releasing its pollen, but when will the dandelions start to take over the fields and verges. When will there be the first ‘flow’?

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