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Beauty and The Bounty

Earlier this year, when I found myself planting rows of flower seeds on crisp spring days, in long sleeve sweaters, I was imagining this very moment.

I was picturing us barefoot at the peak of summer, the fruits of our labours spilling out of colorful baskets, the bounty and the blooms overflowing.

I remember asking Mark, over tea one day, just after putting in a row of sunflowers, if it was possible for something to be “too beautiful.”

“What do you mean,” he asked?

“Well,” I said, “is there such a thing as beauty over-load? I mean, do you think this garden, once it begins to grow, might be so overwhelmingly beautiful, that it could be too much to bare?”

To which he replied, “Surely not, I don’t think there can ever be too much beauty in the world.”

And of course, I agreed with him, I sipped my tea and nodded my head in full alignment with his declaration, but still, there was more to my question, and try as I might, I could not seem to explain it. What I meant was, is it possible to let all that beauty in?  Can the magnificence of something ever be too much?

Because, it is this way for me sometimes. I must admit that I have found my human capacity for beauty to be limited in someways, as though I do not always have the circuitry required to expand in the infinite directions that such beauty requires. Sometimes the beauty of this world is so much, that it splits me wide open, pulls my heart from my chest, wipes my mind clean and releases a well of mysterious tears, that for lack of a better phrase, completely, “Take me out.”

Honey Grove, this summer, has “taken me out,” the beauty and the bounty are beyond my wildest imaginings and I have no category to put my experience.  It simply is what it is, and it is (through my lens at least) unbearably beautiful.  The last time I met a blooming artichoke flower in the four o’clock sun, it was covered in three kinds of bees and I had to kneel down, because my legs went wobbly under the weight of such exquisiteness.

Yes, there is something about growing flowers that gives meaning to the mystery. I think flowers might be some of the best role models for the human experience. Something about the way they give their light to the world without a single thought of being more or less than what they are~ wide open in their wonder, alive and shimmering in their wholeness, perfect in their imperfection. I am fairly certain that flowers know the secrets of the universe, and whenever I can, I like to bottle their essences and give thanks for the magic offered. I am a great believer in using flower essences to support the emotional and energetic body.  And so a few weeks ago, a dear friend came over and we made 3 flower essences under a blue July sky.

St. Johnswort

Nasturtium

Salvia Flower

And while all things are blooming and fruiting, the shelves of our root cellar and farm shop are getting fuller by the week, as we spend our days picking and preserving and planting for the winter months ahead. Lucky for us my Mom is a food-preservation-expert and she came to stay on Honey Grove, with our beautiful niece Senay, for a whole week. Thanks to their enthusiastic and loving efforts many good things were accomplished, not to mention the fun we had!

We canned peaches on the first day they arrived.

Senay is a practiced canner of peaches. She knows the routine very well, having spent a good deal of time  in country kitchens with both Nana and her Mom.

 

She helped with the making of peach jam too, and the measuring and blending of Honey Grove teas…

Because, we are happy to announce that the farm shop is now officially open!

And there are lots of homemade things for sale!

We have homemade jams lining the shelves and dried flowers in hand tied bundles.

We have nourishing beeswax hand salve and hand crafted body-care.

We have postcards, designed by Mark.

And Honey Grove garlic…

And flower seeds for bees!

The guests can now take a little bit of Honey Grove home with them and this seems to please them very much. Speaking of guests, we have had the loveliest folks coming to stay on the farm. The notes that they leave behind  in our guest book, bring us more delight than I can properly say. Somehow their kind words about what we are attempting, have a powerful effect on us and we are motivated to keep dreaming our dream, to grow our gardens and bake our breads and keep our bees. Speaking of bread, Senay had several bread-baking-lessons with her Uncle Mark, everything from multi-grain Greek celebration loaves to pizza dough. She has indeed, become an expert kneader and shaper.

She has also proved her flower arranging skills. Her talent in the garden rivals her talent in the kitchen.

Not to mention the important lessons she gave Aunty, including how to use a cucumber as a microphone before you eat it.

And the importance of putting regular offerings out for Faeries. “It’s a good idea to thank all the Faeries who make your garden grow so well Aunty, you really should be doing this at least 2 times a week” (and so a new ritual has begun).

And I was fully educated on what sort of platters to use, as well as the things Faeries like to eat.  ( For those interested: Flowers, blueberries, seeds, nuts, honey and wine, to name a few).

Oh, and while we were feeding the Faeries, Arrabella’s baby duckling’s hatched! 5 fluffy feathered ones. And our Arrabella has never been happier~

Of course we don’t spend all our time at the farm. We do manage to get down to the beach too.

And Gus has been teaching us all how to fully enjoy a summer sea.

Because that is what summer is about after-all. About celebration and sunshine and holidays and happiness, and more beauty than one can possibly know what to do with~( but that’s the point I think, you don’t have to do anything with it at all).

And so, we bid you farewell for now.

Summer Blessings to All~ May your summers be filled to the brim with happiness and abundant goodness, and may you keep listening to the wisdom of the blooming and petalled ones, as they turn toward the light in wide-open-wonder, perfect in their imperfection.

Nao, Mark, Gus and All at Honey Grove.

 

The Perfection of Paradox

It is a wonder, the philosophical ponderings that arise, whilst bent over in a patch of garden; the things one contemplates and turns over in mind, while spade is turning earth, while hands are picking petals.

(Calendula petals for salves and teas).

I sometimes think that my best ideas are born in the garden, as the earth gives birth to all things, she also gives birth to me, and yet such poetry is also a paradox. For just as the garden stimulates my mind, she also dissolves it. The ideas come, and then they go, arising and dissolving almost simultaneously. No sooner has a thought arisen, than it is dissolved by the smell of sweet peas.

Or the feel of damp earth between toes, or the cool long shape of a cucumber under hand, or the hum of a honeybee coaxing the nectar from a calendula flower.

Gone

Gone

Gone

Sometimes, when they go, I call out for them, ” Oh do come back,” I beg them, “pleeeeaase,” and I reach for those ideas with a kind of fervent desperation. I want to put my earth caked hands around them and hold on tight. Sometimes, I search for a pen, a scrap of  bark, anything to write on, to capture the vision before it flys away. But alas, even before I reach, I know that it is already too late; the idea plucked out of the sky of mind, like a fat and perfect cherry on a faraway branch, swallowed by a robin on his way by. And then, I am left there, ravaged by a passing inspiration, holding onto spade with earth-stained-hands… and it is back to turning soil, just through the garden gate.

But sometimes (at random and unpredictable intervals) something else happens, and in these moments, I simply watch the marvelous pattern of ideas coming and going, arising and dissolving all at once, and this in itself is an exquisite experience. When this happens, I just keep digging, or picking peas, or sowing seeds. All the while, I am nothing more than a witness to myself, to my wild mind and my blessed garden, just noticing the present moment, from a comfortable seat in the chair of paradox.

Of course, beyond this, there is also my human urge to categorize my experience, to say “this experience is better than that one, and it means this about who I am…”  T’is a good thing, that a few nights ago, I read a glorious sentence that got right inside me and soothed this human urge. I found it in Wendy Johnson’s marvelous book, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, and it went like this: “Open your mind so wide it includes your thoughts, your wish not to be thinking so much.”  And well, I have to tell you, that was like a poultice for me, it was a cool gentle salve for my hot inspired mind, and for a moment at least, everything was perfect. For, how can it not be perfect when there are bowls of cherries to be eaten (the robins did leave some for us).

Or should I say buckets.

Which Mark has been canning, almost as fast as I can pick them.

And while he is in the kitchen sweetening cherries with honey, I find my way up into the arms of our bountiful cherry tree and I hold onto it’s smooth branches with my long bird toes (half the garden under my toenails! )

And, from here, I reach for those ripe red orbs, one for the bucket, one for me and on it goes…

Precariously perched above the duck pond, peering down through green leaves, to see Emmet our handsome white drake cheering me on from down below.

Yes, the Honey Grove Harvest has officially begun, and we are as busy as our bees these days gathering the sweetness of this season.

There is a feast to be hand in every direction. The veg plot is over-flowing with goodness and we are enjoying every leaf and root, with the greatest of gratitude.

Each vegetable deserving it’s own private celebration. I could write an ode to every carrot I pull and crunch.

 

Garlic too is being harvested and braided.

And while the garlic is drying, Mark is still brewing…

 

Because, on these sunny summer days, you have to have cold brews to offer dear friends when they come to play their music round your campfire. And you must also enjoy the fruits of your own labour. (These are the laws of brewing, or so I am told.)

Yes, there is such a lot of goodness here on Honey Grove, there is nothing to do but give thanks, to get down on our knees and feel the gratitude that comes for this bounty. But you cannot linger there too long, for there is work to be done. Eh eh. And so, until next time, I bid you farewell, from in between the blooms, under a wide-brimmed- straw-hat, adrift in the poetry of paradox.

Summery Blessings to All,

Nao, Mark and Gus and All at Honey Grove.

 

 

 

 

Come on down…

“Come on down to Honey Grove,

where the bees are buzzin and the flowers are growin.

Come on down to Honey Grove,

don’t you know everybody’s goin.

Come on down to Honey Grove,

and why don’t you stay for a while?

There’s alotta nice things on Honey Grove,

they’re gonna make you smile…”

And now, hear those words sung with just the right amount of lilt and twang by a man in a well-worn-straw-hat, and faded denim trousers held up by suspenders. Add to this a little banjo and an old-time fiddle, throw in a guitar, a washboard and a stand-up base and you’ve got yourself the Honey Grove theme song.  Yes, this is the one I imagine, the song that plays through my mind while I push wheel-barrows of compost around the property and clean chicken coops. So far, there is only one guitar in my band and it belongs to me, I have yet to find the man in the straw hat, the banjo player and the fiddler, but I’ll get there. These things are easy to come by in our neck of the woods. Mark could do nicely as the man in the straw hat, but he would have to lose his British accent, otherwise, I fear it might sound more like an English Ballad, and between you and I, that just would not do. On another note, our musical friends are arriving from various islands this weekend with their banjo’s and guitars in tow, so perhaps my Honey Grove song will come to life yet. That is my hope anyway, that under the stars around the campfire, my song will be born.

But anyway….

Come on down to Honey Grove, where the bees are buzzin.

And the flowers are growin.

Come on down to Honey Grove, don’t you know, everybody’s goin.

Come on down to Honey Grove, and why don’t you stay for a while?

There’s alotta nice things on Honey Grove, they’re gonna make you smile…”

Although, these days, that line should be “there are alotta nice peas on Honey Grove.”

Yes, we are picking peas and shelling peas and eating peas and freezing peas.

I have recently discovered the wonder of listening to pod-casts, on my i-pod, while picking pea-pods. I am having a full education over here, learning all matter of interesting things from ancient Egyptian astrology to Greek mythology to unsolvable (or rather Un-provable) mathematical mysteries. I will have all kinds of interesting new facts so share next time you stay up all night with me, sipping mead around the campfire.  eh eh. But, you’ll have to “Come on down to Honey Grove for that.

Otherwise, I spent this week wheeling wheel-barrows filled to the brim with 10 year old bark mulch (which I acquired from an old riding- ring in the over grown woods on our property) up to the veg plot to create this sparkling new path. It divides our garden into four lovely quadrants for ease of use, and of course, crop rotation.

And looking upon it from another angle.

I am rather pleased with it, which is a relief, because after you wheel barrow 54 loads of bark mulch up the driveway ( yes I counted), you want to be pleased with the result. You really do. And speaking of being pleased, Mark is also feeling very pleased with his brick oven progress, which is proving to be an absolute feat of engineering. I cannot even begin to comprehend how he is doing it. Seeing him doing the calculations alone, is like watching someone do advanced algebra. Tomorrow, he is having a big work party to take things to the next level as he pours the next concrete pad, which the fire bricks will sit on.

And, while we work, everything just keeps growing.

But, all the working never stops us from putting our noses in roses. We have no choice but to succumb to their perfume. They seduce us whenever we attempt to walk past, clutching our agendas. Yes, you will find me bent over roses, breathing deeply, several times a day.  The below rose is called Elle, and she belongs to a romantic novel, or olden fairytale, or the elegant garden of an 18th century stately home… or maybe, maybe she belongs to Honey Grove.  Truth be told, I think we belong to her. Her smell is utterly transporting, nothing else exists when you spend time in her company.

So, “Come on down to Honey Grove, where the bees are buzzin and the flowers are growin, come on down to Honey Grove, don’t you know everybody’s goin, come on down to Honey Grove and why don’t you stay for awhile.  There are alotta nice things on Honey Grove, they’re gonna make you smile..”

In Gratitude,

Nao, Mark, Gus and All at Honey Grove.