Under the Honey Grove Sun~

Once, when I was a little girl (about the age I was when this photograph was taken, sitting in front of my sister Rebecca, on our pony called Webber, our father holding his lead) I walked deep into the snowy woods, without coat or winter boots, because I thought I saw a tiger-lily blooming there.

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My poor mother and father were beside themselves with worry, a child gone wondering, near dusk, in plummeting temperatures, somewhere on 150 acres. They found me of course, unharmed and before dark, but without the imagined tiger-lily that lured me out. It was only an hour that I was gone, but it was long enough, long enough for the fear to set in.

That night, when I was back in the house by the fireside, there was no scolding, only the strong hold of a mother’s arms and the soft rise and fall of her chest, her heart slowing with relief. And all I could think about, while she held me tight, was,”where on earth that tiger-lily could have gone?” You see, it occurs to me now, that I have always had a love of flowers, and a particular fascination with the ones that bloom on the edges of winter (imagined or otherwise). I am convinced you see, that these kinds of flowers might just belong to another world, and in the way that they border the seasons, they also stand between this place and another.

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Perhaps this is why the newly opened crocus stops us in our tracks? Why it causes us to say aloud to somebody or nobody at all, “oh look, look how very beautiful!” As though uttering a word will somehow make them more real, that by saying something, anything, we can dissolve our disbelief. Well, I cannot say for sure, but I do know that the crocuses are showing themselves to us here at Honey Grove, and that all of us, are spellbound.

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The bees included, for our dear bee friends have just woken up after a long winter slumber, and you know, they might even be more fond of the crocus than we are.

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They are certainly more fond of them then Gus, who was found just yesterday, standing in a patch of pastel blooms with a long stick, completely unaware of the spring beauty below is furry legs, crunched beneath is thick-pawed-feet.

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Although, a little later, we like to believe that even he lay down to admire them. Come to think of it, I thought I heard him whispering to them, about his secret of the universe.

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Of course we cannot sit around admiring crocuses all day, lovely as it sounds, for there is, as you well know by now, work to be done. Like scrubbing the poly-tunnel until it is glistening in the afternoon sun, ready for a new season of planting.

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And look how Katie made it shine!

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Katie cleans like she does all things, exceptionally well. Goodness me we are lucky to have her here at Honey Grove, and speaking of Katie, you must look upon at her latest pasta creation, Tortelli di zucca, or squash filled pasta. Doesn’t it make you want to pull up a chair at her farm-table and share meal with this Irish lass, schooled in Italian cooking?

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And while Katie is making pasta, Cohen is cracking into his 14 month old prosciutto.

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Which everybody here is raving about. According to the foodies, there is a “Bright pink interior with clean, white fat resulting in a luxurious mouth feel. The aromas are deep and nutty; part toffee, part mossy forest undergrowth. Perfect balance between salt and sweet on the palate.” And while Cohen patiently waited over a year for his prosciutto to age, he made all kinds of other things, like incredible Tuscan style salame.

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And Finocchiona, a type of salame made with wild Honey Grove fennel.

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Yes, Cohen has been busy stocking the larder and turning Honey Grove into his very own Tuscany, and while he has been doing that, Mark has been baking his famous bread, which Katie and I are still selling, every Saturday morning, at the Comox Valley Farmers market. Do come find us if you are in the area.

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And sometimes when Mark is not baking, and Cohen is not curing meats, and Katie is not making pasta, they all join the bees and I in the lower-field, where there is such a lot of work to be done. Like pruning roses and fruit trees.

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And moving 4 yards of aged steer manure, into the veg plot.

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And onto the base of the orchard trees growing down in the field, below the garden, at the edge of the property.

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And speaking of fruit trees, there are more to plant!

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And so plant them we do (or in this case Cohen does!)

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While, I stack brambles on the burn-pile, and everything gets done, under the Honey Grove Sun.

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Now, if you will please excuse me, I must be off, for the sun is shining upon us again today, and there are a good many things that need doing. I will however pause for just a moment, at the threshold of this exquisite new day, to give thanks, for many blessings of this good life, and especially for your company here, we do appreciate it so.

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Thank You for being out there, and for cheering us on the way you do. May this find you in the midst of another beautiful day, doing something you love. Your support means more than we can properly say.

Bright Blessings,

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

Posted in Spring, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Another Year at Honey Grove ~

And so it is, that we have crossed the threshold into another year~

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Standing on the other side of the Winter Solstice, there is a kind of invisible promise infusing all things, or so it seems to me, as the frosted buds on the raspberries are already beginning to swell. And beneath the snow there is movement, invisible movement, but movement nonetheless. There is life stirring under this blanket of winter stillness, the very energy of conception deep within the Great Mother herself, that holy and invisible place where spirit and matter meet, beyond the borders of the seen world. Yes, the wheel is turning and each evening the daylight lingers a little longer. Mark tells me that it is exactly two minutes, but I am not the mathematician that he is, I have just noticed that the chickens have been staying up a wee bit later with each passing day. Come to think of it, it might be two minutes exactly.

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Yes, the light is indeed returning, and what a marvellous thing this is. One can see why the ancients placed such great importance on this seasonal shift, for it truly is a time of rebirth; a celebration of awakening. The slow dawning of gentle wakefulness that comes softly, rousing us tenderly from our winter slumber. But, I must tell you that slumbering is not what we have been doing here on Honey Grove, lovely as it sounds. No, we have been bustling about in our usual way, and celebrating the turning of the seasonal wheel with all sorts of creative flare. Katie, has for example, been making cakes ~ double chocolate layer cakes with raspberry chantilly cream and Italian meringue buttercream~ Oh, and the most exquisite winter-scape decoration.

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Katie and Cohen, as you well know by now, are food artists, and together they have spent this season creating beautiful meal after beautiful meal, while friends and family merily gathered around the Honey Grove table.

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And we ate those things, that each of us had stored away: Cohen’s salumi and Mark’s pickles and my favourite variety of waxy heirloom Austrian potatoes, known as Sieglinde. There is something so very satisfying about descending down into the root-cellar on a cold winter’s day, to return with a jar of summer peaches. The most fun however, is when Katie and Cohen go down into the cellar and return with a bottle of biodynamic wine from their dear friend’s winery in Italy! A bottle that they have been saving for very a long time.

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And when we were not gathered around the farm table with the ones we love, we were gathered around the oven making pizza and selling bread.

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Cohen, Katie and Mark making Pizza’s.

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While I put fresh loaves of sourdough bread into brown paper bags and ladle steaming cups of hot-apple-cider for those folks brave enough to leave the comfort of their own fire-sides to travel up the dirt path to Honey Grove.

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Tell you the truth, we find ourselves here most days, gathered round the oven.

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Sometimes we even appear in puppet form, this since Katie turned all of us into puppets for our Honey Grove Solstice Variety show ( not to worry though, we will transform back into our human selves in a short while). Yes, the variety show is an annual event in which we all gather round the hearth fire with dear friends and entertain one another with song, or dance, or story, or in the case of Cohen and Katie, a puppet show entitled The Merville Kid-Napping.  I will leave the rest to your imaginations, but what a time we all had. And now, as the sun bursts through the sky and shines down on another crisp winter’s day, we are back to the usual business of our Honey Grove life.

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Now, I am putting on my felt-lined-boots and heading to the garden to move 4 yards of steer manure, while Mark gets back to work in the bakery, mixing bread to the music of his college days. As for Gus, he has decided that the only business to go back to in this life has something to do with leisurely walks through the snowy wood with his human friends. For regardless of how busy they appear to be, he always manages to persuade them to take long walks in the forest, and late afternoon naps by the fireside.

IMG_5308And so, it is from a bright and sunny day, on the edge of a frosty wood, that I bid you farewell and wish you The Very Happiest of New Year’s~

Thank you for your Company,

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

PS- if you are wondering why it is that Katie and Cohen have not headed back to work with the rest of us, it is because they are sitting in an Irish Pub, somewhere in Ireland, drinking pints of Guinness…

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Posted in General, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments