Spring is Here!

Well, I daresay I think spring has at long last come to Honey Grove.












I can tell for two reasons: one is that there are crocuses blooming and bees flying, and the other, is that we have been so busy, we have not had a second to consider anything other than the task at hand. These days, there is little time to ponder the deeper meaning of life, or to wonder how we might become better people, or to worry about whether or not we are doing “enough” for this needful earth. At this time of year, we simply do not have the leisure to get caught in a spin of he said/she said, or to wish for what we do not have, or to dig our righteous heels into those topics that light our human fires, and urge us to build soap-boxes and start waving flags. We simply have too much to do on Honey Grove to be distracted by our monkey minds, and all the seemingly important issues that are continuously arising on planet earth, at every moment. And although we recognize that there is a great deal of imminent change needing to happen in this modern time (and that there are many good-hearted people dedicated to raising awareness with regard to pressing envrinomental and social topics) we are also coming to realize that our part in supporting the change, might be RIGHT HERE on Honey Grove, on these 5.8 acres, with our seeds and our wheel barrows and our bees and our heart-songs.












Yes, it seems that we have become Zen by default, for there is a certain amount of present moment awareness that permeates our spring days, and it has not arisen from a dedicated and zealous practice, but rather from the undeniable fact, that we can do nothing more, than be entirely focused, on the tasks at hand. So, all of this is to say, that if you were to bump into us planting peas, or stacking bee equipment, or digging compost into the veg plot, you might think us more calm and present than usual. You might say to yourself “now these are serene and peaceful country people,” BUT, before you get too many ideas, let me assure you now, that such serenity is mostly the result of two people, who quite simply, have an enormous number of things to do. And in order to get even one thing done, their only option is focus on the present moment. Like planting spinach seeds for example. ( A task that I find to be deliciously satisfying and I have always found it difficult to think of anything else whilst tucking seeds into the earth).












Of course spinach seed planting is made even better with the steady support of Gus, whose adoring gaze makes me certain that planting spinach is a very worthy job indeed, and not only that, but that I am good person doing a most excellent job of it. ( oh the love of our canine friends).












And then, as if to urge us on, there are garlic shoots, shooting up toward the blue spring sky, reminding us that magical things happen below ground, even in the winter. There is something about spring bulbs of all kinds that seem to know something about the alchemy that happens in darkness. I sometimes put my ear to their just-above-ground-shoots and ask them to share their secrets…sometimes they do, sometimes not.












And while the garlic is growing and I am planting, Mark he has been collecting driftwood and erecting posts for his oven roof.












And whilst he is sawing posts and pouring concrete pads, the ducks are laying eggs again!












And while they are laying eggs, the bees have begun to fly!











Yes, it seems that spring has indeed sprung, and now I must leave you, for the cottage needs to be cleaned, as one lot of guests has left and another is about to arrive. Mark says hello from over a loaf of bread he is kneading for the new guests, and Gus sends his love from the garden path, where he takes good long naps in the March sunshine before encouraging me to keep planting seeds.

















Spring Blessings From Honey Grove,

Nao, Mark, Gus and all at Honey Grove














Invisible Stirrings

Snow has come again. A thick white blanket covers the landscape of Honey Grove and our tasks have switched from digging compost into the vegetable gardens, to shaking snow off orchard trees every few hours.












For now, there is nothing to dig or build or plant. Outside the door everything is quiet, unmoving and still, except the cottage guests who come and go in wooly hats and colorful coats. It is an exquisite white canvas, beneath which I believe spring still stirs, for just three days ago I saw daffodil shoots six inches above the ground, and the promise of a flower well underway (although today you would not guess it).












Yes, the world outside our door looks as though it belongs to a Russian Fairytale. The fir trees are wearing billowing white snow gowns.












And the pathways through the woods are under archways of snow-weighted-branches, reminiscent of the dome like ceilings of old-world cathedrals.












As for us, we are the characters in this enchanted narrative, the protagonists of the tale known as Honey Grove.  Yes, by now you may have noticed that I am a lover of story, of myths and tales and lately I have become very curious about the inspiration that first invites them into being.




























I once read that the poet, upon first hearing the call of the muse, would cry “yes” and “no” all at once, for to be ravished by the muse was not only to hear the song of inspiration, but also to be a slave to that song. For whilst inspiration doth flow, there is little rest for the one it flows through. I am no poet, although at times I have desperately wished it to be so. I have though, like the poet or the painter, been roused from my bed in the wee hours, after the fire has burned down to embers, and the snow has fallen in deep silent heaps around the house, by what I can only describe as “a call.”  A call that seems to come from the edges of my known world, a whispered song offered in parts, an irresistible urge to bring something formless into form, to reach with strange and blind assurance, into the very place from which form itself has come. Both Mark and I have willingly and unwillingly stepped into the paradoxical landscape of the muse, because it has rarely been a choice not to.

And so it is with Honey Grove and the lives that we find ourselves living here, as we respond to the muse, as we participate in each new chapter of our story. This land is our inspiration, it is our dream unfolding and it is the mysterious call that leads us on. Where we are going exactly, we are not entirely sure, but go we must. Some days when I am bent over in the garden turning compost, I wonder if Mark and I are actually the ones creating Honey Grove, or if it is indeed Honey Grove that is creating us. These days, I am more inclined to think the latter, and in my more philosophical moments, I wonder if it has always been so. Perhaps the Honey Grove narrative was written long before we ever were.












And then, if you have come to this blog to learn something of homesteading, I am afraid you will be very much disappointed, for all I can offer you here are stories from our journey on this country adventure. I can tell you the tales of our lives through the unfolding of our days, but that is all. I can share with you the ebb and flow of following an idea to its end, and I am more and more certain that this could very well take us the rest of our lives. So far there is no end in sight. We are as busy as our summer bees gathering the sweet nectar of inspiration and turning it into our own kind of honey.












The call however, the inspiration continues to wake us in the night, ideas for fencing and herb gardens wander into our bedroom at 4 o’clock in the morning, unannounced and demanding we give them our full attention. They come while we are driving and when we are making tea and filling up bird feeders. They come when we are hanging our tools up at the end of the day and walking up the steps into the house for supper. Sometimes, we can send them away, roll over in bed and pull the blankets high-up over our heads, so that we might sleep a few hours more. Other times, we can do nothing but respond to their midnight chorus, as we reach for pen and paper to scribble down half formed ideas, to write down the names of heirloom tomatoes seeds we have yet to find.
















And so, as the snow falls and falls outside our window, I am here with my nettle tea, celebrating the invisible realm of Honey Grove. Today I honour the place where the ideas are born. I am raising a glass to the invisible stirrings deep down below the snow. I am bowing down to the wild and seductive muse who rouses the poet from his slumber with a partially illuminated vision, and I am giving thanks to the invisible writer of our Honey Grove tale, the one who woke us from our city-sleep, and begged us to follow our hearts to the country.












May this find you in the midst of beautiful day~

Blessings and Gratitude for your company,

Nao, Mark, Gus and all at Honey Grove

Presently, At Honey Grove.

Some days, after spending hours a day moving piles of stones with a wheel-barrow, I feel strong.  Some days, after spending hours a day moving piles of stones with a wheel-barrow, I feel tired.  Some days, after moving piles of stones with a wheel-barrow, I feel grateful (blessed even). And some days, after moving piles of stones with a wheel-barrow, I feel completely sorry for myself and I return to the house exhausted, grumbling and sore.












The task for the past two weeks has been the same: To Build a Garden Path. The woman building the path however, has been anything but constant, for she is after all a human being. The only constant thing about the human being is her inconsistency; the variedness of the emotional tones that run throughout her days. And if you have not guessed it by now, this she that I speak of, is me.










Yes, if I were working for someone else, building someone else’s garden pathway, I may have been criticized for the rainbow display of multiple attitudes I had toward this task. In the past, what has always made me a “good” employee is my ability to be upbeat and positive at all times. I am, as many of you well know, a Master of Cheerfulness, and although it often comes naturally, it is, between you and I, not a constant state. Which is to say (whispering in hushed tones now) echm… I am, not always, cheerful (oh my gawd, that was funny to write, I sincerely hope you are laughing your heads off now, for I have just put myself on the floor).












Yes, this pathway building has offered me an astonishing metaphor. You see the very building of this pathway has revealed to me another sort of pathway to consider, the kind that is conceptual rather than physical. What I mean to say is, it has shown me another perspective, another way to BE on this human journey. Now, I am quite sure that this discovery is not new, or even interesting, but for me (for this green-grasshopper-seeker) it was a cannonball of recognition that hit me straight in the head and dropped me right into my heart. For, there amongst the emotional ebb and flow of my humanness, I found, what I can only describe as the present moment. And this present moment of mine, is a fascinating realm. I have begun to wonder why I spend such a tremendous amount of time trying to get away from it, and, where in the hell am I going anyway, in such a distracted hurry?  Now I am picturing a panel of wise-old-monks, of toothless soothsayers and levitating masters (cliche I know, but there it is) all sipping hot cups of leafy tea and laughing hysterically at this sweet naive, slightly arrogant, and foolish woman, as she pushes her skookum wheel-barrow over another little nugget of sparkling truth. So there you have it, the past two weeks, I have been building a pathway to the present moment, only to find that it was here all along.




































As for Mark, he too has been doing his own version of present moment exploration, as he spends his days responding to the needs of sourdough cultures and bubbling brews, of continued-oven-building and bread-perfecting. He has, after one full moon cycle, created bread that he is happy with (and so he should be, for it is a marvelous thing).












I wake up these mornings to find artisanal loaves piled high on the kitchen counter, with perfect crusts and billowy crumbs. They are reminiscent of old-world-breads, of story-book loaves. The kind that I imagine, are still found in European villages, in little mountain towns high in the alps. The kind of bread that Hansel and Gretel broke into crumbs and scattered behind them, to mark the pathway home.
















Some even have honeybee shapes on the top!












And after Mark’s bread is baked, his oven is still warm for days, which has been inspiring us to put all sorts of other things in there, like our Honey Grove Granola for example (and it has never tasted better).












Sometimes, you will even find me out there, at Mark’s oven, very early in the morning, half asleep, wearing a wooly sweater inside-out over my nightgown, turning granola, like a proper country witch.












Otherwise, when the baker is not baking, he is brewing. I call Mark my Honey Grove alchemist. He turns milk into yogurt and water/flour paste to sourdough, and sourdough into bread and barley into beer. He is a kind of fermentation wizard.












But before the barley becomes beer it goes through Mark’s  innovative grain-grinding system that uses a powered-drill-bit to turn the grinder.
























Grains go in whole and come out crushed and powdery. And every recipe is perfectly calculated, measured and recorded using modern software. Mark’s brewing process sums him up beautifully, for he brings the old world and the new world together, in ways that make me feel hopeful. It is another one of his alchemy’s.












So there you have it, brews and breads, pathways and the present moment. As for Gus, we are fairly certain that he spends each and every day giving himself to the present moment. He is currently lying on the living room floor in dappled sunlight, meditating on his orange ball.













February Blessings to All~ Thank you for cheering us on.

Nao, Mark, Gus and All at Honey Grove.