For some weeks, in the middle of the month, we had many days of sun, and the mornings were honey coloured, and the sky through the firs was luminous.
And we had purple crocus popping up near the garden gate.
And on warm afternoons the bees would fly, and there was hazel pollen to gather.
And one afternoon, I made a little bouquet of snowdrops and pussy-willows and brought it into the house, in a little clay vase, that I got from a local pottery sale.
And one weekend, Katie and I got so inspired by the light and the warmth, that we got to preparing the veg-plot for spring planting.
We even rented a rototiller to save my good back (for normally we turn the garden soil by hand, and it takes many long back-aching days, but after more than a decade lifting beehives, my dear old back is asking me to find gentler ways).
And the sun shone down on us while we worked, and the pair of us had a grand old day in the earth.
And after just one day of work (as opposed to 5) the garden was ready for planting.
And then, two nights ago it snowed, and in the morning, everything was white again.
And so it would seem that it is not quite spring after all, and this being the case, we have decided put our shovels down for the time being, and patiently wait a few more weeks for spring to officially arrive.
Of course there is one member of Honey Grove who is positively thrilled with the blanket of white out there, and you can surely guess who that is, for snowy days mean long walks in the woods, and afternoons spent sleeping by the fireside, and there is really nothing much better than that now is there?
Until Spring Then~
Nao, Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and All at Honey Grove.
For all the things you cannot predict living here on the land, there are also those things that you can. The things, that after enough times around the seasonal wheel, you begin to count on. You begin to say to yourself, and the ones around you, oh, it’s just about time for the robins to return, or, have you noticed that the owls have begun their mating calls? Or (in the case of our own dear chickens) that regular eggs are being laid again, as they are every year, just after the first full moon, on the other side of the winter solstice.
And so, after a brief two month pause, we have found ourselves with an abundance of eggs again.
And this to me is always a sign that we are moving toward spring, that the days are indeed lengthening, and that the sweet green shoots of the daffodils, will be popping-up through the winter ground, just about now.
There are of course, also, all of those things that we cannot know. Like, for example, that our beloved ducks would be killed my a hungry mink in the middle of the day, during the last snowfall. Or, that five wild storm fronts would move across our island, one after another, over the course of a week. We could not predict that hurricane force winds would bend the firs sideways, causing trees to fall, and power outages to happen, and branches to come crashing down from all directions. Lucky for us, we were not terribly affected here on Honey Grove (other than being confined indoors for rather too many days). And so the moment that the rains stopped, you can well imagine that we went straight outside, and Mark and I headed directly down to the gardens, to do our winter pruning. And how good it felt to be out there at the beginning of another year, doing something we could do, while the sun shone down upon us.
And each year Mark skillfully prunes my roses down to knee hight, while I look on with a great deal of concern, until I recall that he has been doing this every year, and that come June, when my roses are in their full and glorious bloom, I will thank him ( as I do time and time again). And, while he pruned the roses and the currants and the blueberries and the orchard trees (which are 6 years old this year, can you even believe it?) I go around with a wheelbarrow gathering the branches for a big old fire. This is satisfying work to me, I am not sure why, something about gathering things up, about making piles and getting things ready for the next cycle, about releasing the old to welcome the new.
And when our work here was complete, and we found that the sun was still shining, we did a very luxurious thing, and we went for a long walk in our favourite fairytale woodland.
And that same day, we had a picnic lunch of cheese and dark rye bread, and left over Christmas fruitcake and kettle chips (echm, yes, kettle chips, I will confess it, they are one of my great loves in life). Oh how splendid it all was, sipping our strong tea on that bench, next to that beautiful marshland, looking out onto a local beaver dam. And I felt so happy on this day.
Now, the rains have returned and Mark has gone back to work at the bakery, where he is continuing to dazzle the community with his beautiful artisanal bread. He has even come up with three new specialty loaves, which you can only find at our bakery location and on varying days of the week. And so, if you have not tried them, you simply must. They are: The Sultan (a fruit loaf, featuring cherries, sultanas, raisins and cranberries and available on Mondays). The Smuggler (a jalapeño and cheddar loaf, available on Wednesdays) and The Peasant (garlic, roast potato and sage bread, available on Fridays).
Participants learned how to make and maintain their own sourdough cultures, the history of sourdough bread, and of course ( and most importantly) how to make, shape, proof and bake bread at home. And the very best news of all, is that the people who attended the workshop, are now baking bread! And a good number of the participants have been e-mailing Mark photos of the beautiful bread they’ve been baking at home ever since, and, I must tell you, it all looks very good indeed, even Mark is impressed (and between you and I, he is very hard to impress).
He will be offering another workshop this coming weekend (which is full already) but if all goes well, there will more in the future, so stay tuned, that is, if baking sourdough bread is something you have ever wanted to learn. Well, I do believe that is really all I have to report. I must be off now, for I have another box of seeds to sort through before mid February when I begin to plant my starts, and there is also my dog friend here next to me, looking very bored with the way I have chosen to spend my morning. eh eh.
And so, for now, I bid you good day and with Great Gratitude for your Company~
Nao, Mark, Katie, Cohen, Gus and All at Honey Grove
And just like that, the wheel has turned yet again, and we have crossed the threshold of the Winter Solstice.
And believe it or not, the light will soon be returning, for within the next moon’s cycle, the days will become noticeably longer.
And there was the most extraordinary chocolate yule cake, made by my dear friend Nikiah to mark this special occasion.
We even had a yule tree this year, strung with lights and rose-hips and homemade ornaments and old birds nests that I have collected from the land here.
And once the solstice was over, and one lot of dear friends left, another set arrived, and Katie began to prepare for Christmas, the Irish way. And those incredible whiskey soaked fruit cakes that she began making at summers end, well, they were finally ready for eating.
And ohmystars they were good. Perhaps, I don’t need to tell you, that a Christmas dinner prepared by Cohen and Katie, is truly something to behold. If ever you find yourself invited to sit around their table, know that it will be an experience like no other, and that the quality of food and hospitality is unrivalled.
And these dinners, they go on for a long time, course after delicious course. In fact, hours can go by while enjoying the pleasures of eating at a long table in good company; sipping wines, that you feel sure were made just to go with this meal. Oh and the salads, they are simply art.
Yes, needless to say, we have been doing a great deal of eating here at Honey Grove over the holidays. It’s a good thing we have been getting our exercise too, and taking long snowy walks as a part of our daily routine.
And not without our beloved dog friend, who leads us through the fir wood with an extra skip in his step. Gus assures me (and on a regular basis) that there is nothing quite like taking his dear human friends for a walk. It is a pleasure (he says) like no other.
And so it seems that December on Honey Grove has been both busy and relaxing, and here, today, at the threshold of another year there is blue sky and a pile of sparkling snow out the door. There are guests cozy in the cottage and there is a brand new seed catalogue sitting on the table, just waiting for me to open it, so that I might begin dreaming of the coming year.
Nao, Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and All at Honey Grove~