Harvest at Honey Grove ~

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And just like that, we are standing on the threshold of another autumn, and the alders that line the wooded path to our house, are already beginning to let down their leaves.

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And for reasons both known and unknown there is an invitation to breath deeply now, for the relief of this seasonal transition is palpable. The fullness of summer is already beginning to lessen and there will soon be time to pause again. Time for gentle walks through the mountains with a thermos of sweet tea, time to slow down and turn our gazes skyward, up toward the Canadian geese, as they begin their v-shaped journey south. The afternoon light has already deepened, and these days, when you find yourself eating a perfect apple, down in the orchard with your beloved dog friend, you notice that everything appears to be more golden.

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And you wonder if there is something held within that apple that makes all things appear more luminous? Can the colour of a season be contained inside a fruit?

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And perhaps this is why you feel like a character in a old-time story, standing in the place between summer and autumn, in a pool of late afternoon light (the kind that could very well be spun into gold) because picking an apple and eating it beneath the very tree it grew upon, is a timeless thing to do. But, I get ahead of myself, because before there were apples, before the leaves began to fall, we had August, and what an August it was. First of all there were figs.

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And Katie, having lived in Italy for many years, might just love them more than all of us combined.

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And after canning tomatoes and freezing tomatoes and canning them some more, they are still coming in, and will be for another month I expect. There really is nothing quite like a vine-ripened tomato, and it is possible that we have enjoyed them at every meal time since they first began to turn red and sweet. Come to think of it, I cannot think of a meal we have had recently that did not include tomatoes, or green beans for that matter.

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And while the garden grew up around us and everything came into fruition at once, other things happened on Honey Grove. Our dear friends Zoe and Ken got married here for example.

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And although we do not normally host weddings, we could not help but host this one, because these two people are very dear to our hearts, and so Cohen and Katie made all the food, including this exquisite cake, made by Katie’s fair hand.

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Oh and believe me it tasted as good at is looks. And while Cohen and Katie catered, Mark made his beautiful bread, and I arranged flowers for the bride.

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And a harvest crown for her head.

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Part of the crown was collected from the wild hedgerow, and part from the bounty of the Honey Grove flower garden. And speaking of the flower garden, oh my stars, it was really something to behold this year.

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You can hardly find Senay hiding in the blooms~ Yes, our beautiful niece Senay, bless her, she came all they way down from her mountain home in the Interior of British Columbia, to spend two glorious weeks on Honey Grove with Auntie and Uncle, and what a time we all had!

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We got a tremendous amount of work done too, like canning dill pickles (which Senay happens to be an expert at, as she lives on a homestead with her family, and she and her Mom can dill pickles every summer). So together we got the job done.

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And Mark wasn’t baking that day, so he helped too.

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I must admit it was fun to have his help, for we see so little of Mark outside of his bakery, where he continues to create his beautiful artisanal loaves, that continue to sell-out in 20 minutes at the Farmers Market each week. Luckily, I had Senay to help me with bread sales during the busiest markets of the year.

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Meanwhile, back at the farm, Cohen and Katie have been harvesting fennel pollen to sprinkle on a myriad of culinary delights.

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I made them promise that they had to leave some for the bees though, who need all the support they can get after such a wet July. Our bees made such a small amount of honey this year (due to all the rain early in the summer) that we left them with most of their harvest and just took a very small amount for ourselves. It was not a fantastic honey year, but the bees are healthy, and this is always the most important thing.

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Still though, if the honey harvest was small, the potato harvest was enormous, and there are 200 pounds of potatoes stored away in the cellar now.

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They are lined up in large paper feed bags next to the sauerkraut, which is bubbling away, after a phenomenal cabbage harvest.

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And while the sauerkraut ferments and I continue to can more tomatoes and Mark continues to knead bread, Cohen and Katie have just adopted a new kitten, who they have named Beemo! And so I introduce you to the newest member of Honey Grove, who is adapting tremendously well and keeping all of us highly entertained. Meet Beemo, and get ready to fall completely in love.

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And now I bid you farewell, as I head out into the garden to gather a basketful of basil, for there is pesto to make and freeze~the harvest is not all in just yet.

Harvest Blessings from all of us at Honey Grove. May this find you in the midst of a beautiful day~

Nao, Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and All at Honey Grove.

 

Posted in Autumn, General, summer, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Sweetness of Summer

 

thumb_P1015298_1024 2Summer, she’s here, like a long awaited visit from a dear friend, she has finally come up the path to Honey Grove and through the garden gate, as beautiful as ever, more beautiful perhaps, glowing in her floral prints; a marvellous tapestry of unbelievable colour.

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And we have waited a whole year for her return, dreaming of bright warm days and harvest dinners near the wood-fire oven, and bouquets of flowers on every windowsill.

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But her stay, it never feels quite long enough, for her arrival coincides with our busiest time of year, and we, like our blessed bees, are buzzing about, rather non-stop.

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There is little time for pause, for afternoons spent admiring the slant of the light on the boughs of the maple, not when there is a holiday cottage that needs cleaning and more ripe berries that need picking.

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Not when there are beehives that need checking.

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Some of them, high up in the mountains, gathering fireweed nectar.

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No time for pause, when there is market bread that needs baking.

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And market muffins that need making.

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Not when there are gardens that need watering and garlic that needs braiding.

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But every now and again, a kind of soulful sanity breaks through, and you cannot help but look up from the tasks at hand to recognize that summer has come all this way just to visit you, and that you have hardly noticed.

And hopefully, you have the good sense to pause then. To go and make a cup of tea, or to sit down in the orchard with a good book, or to lean into the trunk of a nearby fir tree and to watch the play of flickers at the edge of the wood. And in moments such as these you might enter into a conversation with Summer, and she can fold you into the tiny blossoms of her grass skirt, and you can rest their in her warmth and beauty, with the full acknowledgement that she will not be here forever. And that this, this is what summer is all about. And then suddenly, all of those things that seemed so important, well, they are much less so, and there is only the hum of bees and the sound of flicker wings moving across the blue sky.

And if you are wondering how I know this, it is because I actually paused this summer. It’s true, I did, for the first time in 5 years on Honey Grove, I paused for 5 sweet days, while my dear friend and writer Sylvia and her partner Simon, came to visit us from California. And in their splendid company, we had long lunches and endless pots of tea. We went on beach picnics and hiked in the alpine, we even spent a whole day making flower essences under the summer sun.

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And another time we ate Katie’s blueberry/huckleberry pavlova. And goodness me, what a time we all had.

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Now, Sylvia and Simon have returned to their southern home and we have found our way back into the rhythms of daily life. We have gone back to bread baking and beekeeping, to gardening and housekeeping, but there is something that lingers from those 5 sweet days, and if I were to say what that is, I might say it has something to do with presence. That is, the profound recogntion that beneath the surface of ‘doing,’ there is a territory of great and unwavering beauty, and I am quite certain that this is the territory that the wise-ones call ‘being.’

And speaking of wise ones, there is one laying in a beam of sun at this very moment, his belly to the sky, watching the birds flying over head and waiting for his afternoon walk through the quiet wood, where he can sniff tall-peed-upon-grass, and I can eat handfuls of huckleberries, alongside the black bears. And maybe, just maybe, if I continue to remember the great truth of presence, there will be an ocean swim later.

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Meanwhile, just down the way, at Uncle Ken’s Farm. Cohen’s pigs are having a lovely summer too.

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Now, I must be off, for there is a cottage to clean and more hives to peak in.

Bright Blessings to you, on this Summer Day,

Nao, Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and All at Honey Grove

Posted in General, summer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment