November on Honey Grove~

On the first day of November the sun was shining and there were still nasturtiums blooming in the garden.

And Gus and I were working there, among the orange and yellow blooms, and it was a beautiful short-sleeve and hatless kind of day.

We were enjoying the warmth of the winter sun among the brussel-sprouts and the cabbages and delighting in the sweetness of such a blessed afternoon.

I was digging up dahlia tubers.

And gladiola bulbs, with the knowledge that the weather was going to change, for there were whisperings throughout the town, about the changing forecast.

And then, change it did, for on the second day of November, it snowed and everything froze, and although we had heard it was going to get cold, we were not quite expecting winter to arrive overnight.

And for 5 strange days we had extreme winter weather, snow and ice and terrifying roads, and then as quickly as it arrived, it left, and the sky went back to raining, and we have gone back to harvesting beets and turnips from the garden.

And when the days were gentle again, Cohen rescued thirty, ten year old grape vines, of the pinot-gris variety, from a local vineyard (where they were making room for new vines) and he brought them home to Honey Grove, where he planted Honey Grove’s very own mini vineyard. And he worked hard (backbreaking-stone digging- hard) for two long days to get those vines into the ground with everything they needed to be strong and well and laden with grapes in future years. I must admit, we are all very excited about this new addition to Honey Grove, for it has been a dream of ours for some years.

And once the grapes were all in (and what a job that was!) Cohen got straight to work with Katie, and together they planned Honey Grove’s first Pop-Up for dear friends, which took place last night at Mark’s new bakery space in town, and what an incredible success it was! The evening began with a twenty-four month old prosciutto leg.

And I wish you could have seen the expressions and heard the sounds of the people when they tasted it, for they could not believe what they were experiencing. I think some of them wondered if they had somehow been transported to the warmth of the Italian countryside, and faraway from the rainy wet, of the Pacific North West, in November.

And for one night, the bakery was transformed into a warm and glowing dining hall, complete with the hum and chatter of happy guests.

And we all buzzed around, like a hive of Honey Grove bees, taking good care of our guests and serving up a wintery feast to warm and restore and satisfy, all created and cooked of course, by Cohen and Katie. ( Who by-the-way are really quite something to witness in a kitchen. What a remarkable pair of people they are when they are combining their creative food talents. I mean just take a look at the menu…)

And while they cooked, I attended to the flower arrangements, which featured crabapples and winter herbs of rosemary and English thyme.

And our visiting friend David (who came all the way from Montreal) prepared his arty arboreal jelly dish, which he served near the end of the meal, on beach stones no less.

And Mark served his beautiful, fresh-out-of-the-oven-baguettes.

And before we knew it, seven courses had gone by and it was time to serve the dessert, which was a gorgeous inspiration of Katie’s: yogurt cotto con un biscotti d’oro (yogurt, cream, honey, pistachios, apricots, almond and cranberry biscotti.

And so it was that the guests left happy and glowing, their bellies full and their hearts content. We then cleaned up into the wee hours before falling into our beds for long and deep sleeps, all of us aching-tired but satisfied. And outside the door, the November rains continued to pour down.

Now, I must be off, for the others are still cleaning up the remnants of last night’s gathering, and I am in charge of keeping the home fires here at Honey Grove burning bright, and while I have been typing here this morning, they have nearly all gone out.

Blessings from the Honey Grove Hearth~

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

 

When August Comes

When August comes, gathering inspiration for dinner means a gentle walk down to the garden with a big sturdy basket.

A basket that can withstand the weight of potatoes and carrots and cucumbers, tomatoes and beans and beets. A basket wide enough that it can be gently topped with kale leaves and salad greens and flower petals.

Yes, summer dinners on Honey Grove are not complete without an array of edible flowers, which make it into nearly every course, including desserts. One of which was a raspberry lemon cake topped with lemon curd, nasturtium flowers, dahlia and cornflower petals.

Because, 0h-my-goodness the flowers are blooming, and we gather them daily, for markets and custom orders, for friends and cottage guests, and to adorn the top of every table and sill in our little Honey Grove house.

We even put them in the honeybee drinking water, which I am convinced they appreciate.

But, I am not the only one gathering flowers for bees, our beautiful niece Senay came to spend two weeks with us here on Honey Grove, and together we gathered flowers and went to markets and had more fun than any of us can possibly describe by way of words.

And are we ever grateful for her help.

For August is a busy time here on the farm, and when there are not markets to attend, there are 20 pounds of blueberries to jam and freeze.

And herbs to harvest and dry.

And gardens to water, and a cottage to clean.

And honey to collect from hard working bees.

And still, despite the fullness of this season, it is not only work, for there are also morning yoga classes with Gus to attend, as he reminds us to pause and stretch out on the grass beneath the summer sun.

And there are dinners with dear friends, who have traveled a long way to come and sit round the Honey Grove table.

And wonderful times spent with family, and especially my dear Mom, who came and stayed for a week and cooked beautiful meals for us, while we bustled around in our summer way. Thank you Mom!

Oh, and there is a little tree frog in the Honey Grove garden who spends his time between the soft pink petals of a giant dahlia encouraging us all to take breaks.

And while our little frog friend is resting in the dahlia petals, Katie can occasionally be found in her hammock ( although not nearly often enough!).

As for Mark and Cohen, they both move too quickly for photographs, but they are here among us, working hard and pausing to rest when they can, mostly down by the river or the sea.

And now I must sign off, for another day has begun and there are some things that need doing. Gardens to water, bees to look in on and a river to swim in.

Summery Blessings to All,

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summertime On Honey Grove~

Summer has come to Honey Grove and we have found ourselves in the season of abundance, for everywhere we look there is something to eat or to harvest, something hanging ripe on the bough ready to nourish, to sustain and support us while we work these long days on the land. There are salads and berries and new potatoes. There are carrots and beets and cucumbers. There are peas and beans and flowers, and oh my, how there are flowers.

And some are made into bouquets, and some we pluck just to sprinkle on salads.

And some we leave in the garden so that they might carry on singing to us. For sing they do! Flowers, I am convinced, are dedicated to reminding us that whatever we do, “do not forget the beauty of this world.” And here on these July days, I am not sure that we could, forget the beauty that is, for this is the season that I refer to as “beauty overload.” The kind of beauty that stops you in your tracks, that brings you to your knees, that takes your words away and stretches your heart wide like the sky. It’s the kind of beauty that wakes poets at dawn and turns them into madmen. The kind of beauty that surely cannot be contained or sustained, because it’s bigger than you and I, and it’s edges, well, they extend far beyond the boundaries of what we can know with our minds.

And no matter how many berries there are to pick, or jars of jam there are to make, you cannot help but notice the luminosity of summer.

When you are sitting cross legged on the ground, back aching, braiding yet another strand of garlic, you cannot help but look up every now and then, just to appreciate the beauty there. Those bright petaled faces cheering you on in all kinds of unsayable ways.

And when there is such exquisite abundance, one simply has to share it, to fill up baskets of nourishment for dear friends.

 

Yes, we have baskets full of all kinds of things on Honey Grove these days, for while there is food to gather, there are also herbs to collect and dry and tincture.

Medicines for the winter months, that will sooth and heal and restore when the cold comes.

There is no question, these are full times, and it is easy to lose oneself in the busyness of these long days, for there are cottage guests leaving and arriving almost non-stop, and when there are not berries to pick, there are sinks to scrub and linens to air. Oh and there are three markets a week to bake bread for now.

And gardens to tend and bees to look in on.

But you know, somehow the beauty of this season urges us on, nourishes the soul in ways that awaken life force and activate the vitality needed to bring in the harvest.

And speaking of awakening life force, there are also swims to have, yes, this might be as essential as the beauty for sustaining us. For every single day, rain or shine, Gus and I make our way to the water, and we let the river and the sea take all our cares away.

Now I must be off, for a new day has begun and there are things that need doing, berries that need picking, gardens that need watering.

 

Bright Summery Blessings to All~

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