Last night, in a large hardcover book, written by an old woman, with a good and honourable human story to tell, I read a sentence that made me nod my head in deep down agreement. The author was writing about a childhood summer spent in the north of England, on her grandmother’s country estate. She was writing about the bird sounds that came through her wide open bedroom windows at night and in the morning: “the occasional squawk of the moorhen down on the lake, or the volley of quacking from the wild ducks, or the harsh cry of the herons which colonized the nearest island.”
“These noises,” she wrote, “seemed to be heard by something inside me rather than by my ears” (pg 68, Diana Athill, Life Class).
And as I read her words I wanted to thank her, to thank her for being able to say something that I was not sure could be said, to thank her for her company in the un-sayable. What she has so beautifully articulated about the sounds made by England’s country birds, is precisely how I feel about the smells of June on Honey Grove. The perfume that escapes the thick hedgerows of wild roses that line the dirt road leading up to our farm, the sweetness of the tall grass in the lower field, the smell of beeswax that rises up off the hives in the afternoon like an invisible mist around the bee-yard; these smells are smelled by something inside me, rather than by my nose.
When I breathe these smells in, I find myself experiencing past and present all at once. For as I am standing in my garden on a Tuesday afternoon, I am also 5 years old, barefoot with scratched-up-legs running in a paisley skirt, collecting wildflowers for my father’s honey wagon, that would roll down our village high-street in the June parade. I am planting rows of carrots on Honey Grove, and at the same time, I am racing through the fields and up the mountains of my childhood, in the wild interior of British Columbia. In these moments, my whole being knows that I am home, home in the most real sense of the word, home in the way that one can never really say, but that can be felt, in the heart, like a tidal wave of truth.
Yes, these days on Honey Grove, I have taken to calling The Perfume of June. Everything is sweet and new, with the exception of our nettle/comfry/chicken manure compost tea, which has reached it’s full ripe fetor. It is only tolerable because the tomatoes like it so much.
And, if you look closely, you can see the fruits are swelling.
Yes, all things are swelling into ripeness here on Honey Grove. Look at these strawberries on their way to fat red deliciousness.
And the bees, they are swelling too…the way bees sometimes do…when you don’t give them enough space, soon enough.
Lucky for us we were able to re-hive them, and they have settled into their new home nicely.
And, while we sleep, the garden grows inches in the night. Really, it does.
Soon there will be artichokes, which I still cannot believe, because I always thought you had to live in France to grow artichokes. At one time I would have been willing to move to France just for that reason (well that, and the chocolate croissants and the cobble stone streets and the Louvre).
On another note you can almost watch Mark’s hops growing up their orange strings (between you and I, I think Mark actually does this). I sometimes see him down by his hops just starring at them with a deep appreciative love, and often a good length of time goes by before he returns from “watering” them in the lower field. It is his secret-hop-love affair…he doesn’t think I know, but I do.
And when Mark is not watering hops, or making beer, or training hops, or planting hops, he is making bread with the “spent grain” left over from his beer making, which he drys and grinds and then soaks again, before mixing and kneeding and baking~ it is a labour of love.
And he does other things too, lots of other things. Sometimes he is going around the farm putting an end to tent caterpillars.
Or, building picnic tables, for picnicking guests.
Or adding another level to his brick oven.
And while I garden and Mark hammers, the sweet peas are still blooming. And, before Mark’s Dad left for England, he showed me how to make bouquets like this. This is one that he made. I know, isn’t it beautiful? Now imagine what it smells like.
So there you have it, we are working away over here, breathing in the beauty and carrying on with an ever-expanding and dedicated dream. Our days are long and there is much work to be done, but we are not complaining. We did hang a hammock recently with the intention to rest from time to time, but I am afraid, we have yet to get in it. Soon.
Until next time then. May your gardens be growing in their exquisite abundance, and may the fruits of your labours be appearing in time to cheer you on~ renewing your enthusiasm and propelling you forward encouraged and grateful.
Blessings and Gratitude,
Nao, Mark and Gus ( Gus sends his love too, from a country stroll, in the evening sun, sporting a new summer haircut).