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.

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Pathways and Possibilities

Just out the backdoor, next to an old brick path that leads out the back gate (a gate that jingles when it swings because of the tinkling fairy-bells attached to it) are a bunch of snowdrops.
















And, if you passed them in a hurry, carrying groceries, or post, or an arm-load of tools, you may not even notice them, for they are just beginning to reveal their soft pointed petals.












They are just beginning to show their sophisticated whiteness against a backdrop of sage-green-stem, just beginning to whisper to the passerby, the secrets of early spring. I am convinced that snowdrops work together with robins and pussy-willows and daffodil shoots, together, they form a kind of secret spring society. They show up quietly and unannounced, in the background and beneath our feet, only to be noticed by those who are willing to look for them. They dare us to believe in the new dawn and the spring song. They celebrate the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. It is (for me at least) a magical time of year, filled with mysterious new beginnings, with promises and possibility. I am certain I can hear the backdoor snowdrops whispering every time I go up the pathway that leads through the back-gate. As for what I hear them saying, I am afraid I cannot say, for you will have to go and have a listen yourself. It seems they have different messages for different people (but you’re not surprised).

Speaking of pathways, they appear to be a theme around Honey Grove as of late. For quite some time I have wanted to build solid pathways through the vegetable and flower gardens, but with all the busyness here on the farm, I must confess it never seemed a priority, until now.












Now, it is all I can think of, and truth be told, I have become somewhat pathway obsessed. This past week, with the support of our dear student helper Alexia, we have begun laying the foundation for the veg plot pathways. Together she and I went down to the garden in our work gloves and rubber boots, balancing cups of chai tea with our shovels, and we worked hard under that January sun. Of course, we made sure to whistle while we worked and to talk of heart-felt things between shovel fulls of earth, and to laugh hard whenever there was good reason (which was almost the entire time). You see, the thing I am learning here on Honey Grove, is that I have spent way too much of my life being far too serious. And the problem with serious is, is that it keeps the mind so pre-occupied and the eyes so focused, that one is unable to notice such things as snowdrops, let alone hear their wisdom. So I am giving-up on seriousness and joining the secret society of spring, if they will have me that is. I might simply be too human for a seat at their table, but it is a worthy aspiration nonetheless.












Yes, we have been bent over digging trenches and salvaging wood to build retaining walls that will hold my pathway stones in place and create a solid foundation for wheelbarrows and trampling garden feet, for pattering dog paws and intricate sprinkling systems. We have been dividing our blessed garden into quadrants, an inspiration that burst into my mind some years ago, whilst pouring over a gardening book that I found in a bed and breakfast, in France. I remember eating chocolate croissants (like a proper tourist trying hard to be French) and reading about old-world-monastery gardens of the local area. Heaven knows what the book was, but it matters not, for the inspiration has stayed with me all these years and the pathway has begun! Otherwise, I am still eating chocolate and pretending to be French. eh eh












And what about Mark you ask? Well, he still busy with is oven.  If I am pathway obsessed then it seems that he may be oven obsessed.  He is still experimenting with recipes and burn times and oven temperatures. He is applying himself the way that Mark does, with method and calculation and careful consideration. He sets his alarm clock to ring in the wee hours of the morning, and hops out of bed to check the temperature of his oven. He burns different kinds of wood and records the results. He has joined on-line-brick-oven-forums, where he spends his evenings, drinking english tea and chatting with other wood-fire-freaks around the world (yes they exist).
















And with every passing day, he is learning the intimate details of his oven. In fact, just the other morning, while he was kneading yet another loaf of bed, I walked into the kitchen, poured myself a cup of tea, looked him in the eye and said, “Should I be worried?”

About what, he asked?”

“Your oven,” I said, “quite frankly, I think you love her more than me.”

And it’s a good thing he laughed so hard and for so long, or we might have had a problem on our hands. eh eh. But, I digress, you see bread recipes are not the only thing to perfect. There is also the further construction of the oven, which includes a roof and counter tops and the aesthetic finish.  For now though, the focus is on the counter heights and so Mark, with the help of his dear friends Neil and Tim, have been working on the design, and they have started to rough it out with salvaged wood, before they set to the task of the more permanent structure. Oh I can hardly wait to see the finished results!












So, as you can see, we have not yet run out of things to do here on Honey Grove.  The most difficult decision we face each day, is deciding what the priority is, but we do what can and we trust that we have chosen well. As I mentioned earlier we are giving up on” serious,” it has not proved to be all that helpful, and if seriousness should threaten to over take ( which it does on a regular basis) we simply follow the wisdom of Guru Gus, and we go for walk.













In gratitude for your company and may you always be able to hear the secrets whispered by snowdrops,

Nao, Mark, Gus and All at Honey Grove

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