September on Honey Grove

And so it is that September is already upon us and the light on the garden is already changing.

As the days shorten and the harvest rolls in there is a deep sense of gratitude for the astonishing abundance of our little Honey Grove. Three hundred pounds of potatoes are now stored away in the cellar.

I dug them up one very hot day while listening to a podcast about loving kindness, and all the while thinking to myself, how easy it is to cultivate an open heart in relationship to a garden.

 

And when the potatoes were all dug, I harvested over 70 pounds of onions.

And when my back got sore, which it did, I just kept thinking about how nice it would be to make soup this winter from our own blessed harvest, and how good it will taste on a cold winters day, and on I went, looking a wee bit like a bent over old woman, but a happy one at that. Meanwhile, as I was busy storing away the onions and potatoes, Cohen got to processing tomatoes, for we had no shortage of tomatoes this hot dry summer, and oh my stars, they were extra good this year. There is nothing like a hot dry summer to bring tomatoes into sweet ripe perfection.

Of course Cohen was not slaving away over a hot stove all summer, he did mange to go fishing too, and one can hardly say that was terribly taxing for him. I believe he even caught a few fish.

As for Katie, between her steady work at the local winery and her extraordinary hosting of out of town guests (who she seats around long tables of bountiful harvest feasts) she is a very busy woman. And still, despite how much she manages, you can always find her at the local Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, where she is making me laugh hysterically and selling her famous muffins.

 

And what about Mark you might ask? Well good question, he is currently working 7 days a week in his new bakery as he prepares to take his bread into the local health food stores. Yes, starting the first week of October you will find Mark’s beautiful bread in 3 local health food stores, more details coming soon. He will also continue to bake for the Farmers Market on Saturdays.

 

I must admit I am incredibly proud of  Mark as he so passionately dedicates himself to his craft. I am also looking ever so forward to a time when he will have days off again and we can go for leisurely walks in the forest with our beloved dog friend.

Something, we still manage to do even despite the busyness of it all. These days we walk in the evenings after supper and before bed.

And when we come home from our evening woodland walks we share a pot of fresh mint tea with cinnamon and honey in the living-room beneath a canopy of drying herbs.

Speaking of honey, the bees, like us, are also getting ready for winter now. They are bringing home the last of the pollen as the nectar flow has virtually stopped everywhere but in our garden. In fact the garden is kind of beehive in itself these days. There are bees on every nasturtium and rose and calendula petal and the garden hums with the sound of their gathering.

For when it comes to flowers, there are many, and I continue to make bouquets for the Saturday Farmers Market.

And some rather special ones for custom order.

 

And alongside the flowers the bounty continues, we still have beets and kale and carrots and beans and turnips, and splendid cabbages (Peter Rabbit Story book cabbages).

And did I mention kale?

Yes, the garden keeps providing even as summer slips in to autumn and the light changes in the sky. As for Gus, he is fine with the light changing, so long as he can find a patch of it to stretch out in.

And now I must be off, for the days are getting shorter and the list of things to do is not.

Bright Harvest Blessings to All,

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sweetness of Summer

 

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Summer, she’s here, like a long awaited visit from a dear friend, she has finally come up the path to Honey Grove and through the garden gate, as beautiful as ever, more beautiful perhaps, glowing in her floral prints; a marvellous tapestry of unbelievable colour.

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And we have waited a whole year for her return, dreaming of bright warm days and harvest dinners near the wood-fire oven, and bouquets of flowers on every windowsill.

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But her stay, it never feels quite long enough, for her arrival coincides with our busiest time of year, and we, like our blessed bees, are buzzing about, rather non-stop.

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There is little time for pause, for afternoons spent admiring the slant of the light on the boughs of the maple, not when there is a holiday cottage that needs cleaning and more ripe berries that need picking.

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Not when there are beehives that need checking.

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Some of them, high up in the mountains, gathering fireweed nectar.

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No time for pause, when there is market bread that needs baking.

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And market muffins that need making.

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Not when there are gardens that need watering and garlic that needs braiding.

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But every now and again, a kind of soulful sanity breaks through, and you cannot help but look up from the tasks at hand to recognize that summer has come all this way just to visit you, and that you have hardly noticed.

And hopefully, you have the good sense to pause then. To go and make a cup of tea, or to sit down in the orchard with a good book, or to lean into the trunk of a nearby fir tree and to watch the play of flickers at the edge of the wood. And in moments such as these you might enter into a conversation with Summer, and she can fold you into the tiny blossoms of her grass skirt, and you can rest their in her warmth and beauty, with the full acknowledgement that she will not be here forever. And that this, this is what summer is all about. And then suddenly, all of those things that seemed so important, well, they are much less so, and there is only the hum of bees and the sound of flicker wings moving across the blue sky.

And if you are wondering how I know this, it is because I actually paused this summer. It’s true, I did, for the first time in 5 years on Honey Grove, I paused for 5 sweet days, while my dear friend and writer Sylvia and her partner Simon, came to visit us from California. And in their splendid company, we had long lunches and endless pots of tea. We went on beach picnics and hiked in the alpine, we even spent a whole day making flower essences under the summer sun.

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And in the evenings we had long country dinners around the picnic table, and we stayed there visiting until the light had completely faded and the moon had replaced the sun entirely. And one time we made pizza.

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And another time we ate Katie’s blueberry/huckleberry pavlova. And goodness me, what a time we all had.

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Now, Sylvia and Simon have returned to their southern home and we have found our way back into the rhythms of daily life. We have gone back to bread baking and beekeeping, to gardening and housekeeping, but there is something that lingers from those 5 sweet days, and if I were to say what that is, I might say it has something to do with presence. That is, the profound recogntion that beneath the surface of ‘doing,’ there is a territory of great and unwavering beauty, and I am quite certain that this is the territory that the wise-ones call ‘being.’

And speaking of wise ones, there is one laying in a beam of sun at this very moment, his belly to the sky, watching the birds flying over head and waiting for his afternoon walk through the quiet wood, where he can sniff tall-peed-upon-grass, and I can eat handfuls of huckleberries, alongside the black bears. And maybe, just maybe, if I continue to remember the great truth of presence, there will be an ocean swim later.

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Meanwhile, just down the way, at Uncle Ken’s Farm. Cohen’s pigs are having a lovely summer too.

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Now, I must be off, for there is a cottage to clean and more hives to peak in.

Bright Blessings to you, on this Summer Day,

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

July On Honey Grove ~

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I am not sure how it happened, that is, how spring turned into summer, and July has suddenly arrived on our doorstep? Or, how overnight, the garden has become a forest of nasturtium and calendula and giant poppy.

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Which the bees are absolutely mad about (and so am I).

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I guess we were too busy picking raspberries to notice the seasons change.

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Too busy making jam.

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And looking into beehives.

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Too awed with the exquisite top-bar-comb that some of the bees are now making, a profound work of art, I mean look.

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Then I was off picking flowers

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And making bouquets for market sales.

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And practicing flower crowns, for a dear friend’s up-coming wedding.

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And clearing 1/2 an acre of alder trees, with Katie. 1/2 an acre that will soon become the Honey Grove nut orchard!

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And if you have been following us along here, you will not be surprised to learn that Katie not only knows how to safely use a chainsaw, and that aside from holding a Masters Degree in Food Culture, she is also a small engines mechanic. Yep, that’s her in the orange hard-hat.

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And after a dedicated morning of falling and bucking, we have another load of firewood to burn this winter~ Hurrah!

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All this, while Mark’s Mum and Dad were visiting us. And, for the three short weeks that they were here, they helped us with the many tasks of this season (which at this time of year, are undeniably non-stop). Our gratitude for their encouraging support overflows. There were also gardening lessons with Mark’s Dad (Honey Grove’s very own retired Senior Advisor of the Royal Horticultural Society of England) and I had the opportunity to ask a thousand enthusiastic questions about compost and pruning and planting and feeding, about roses and peaches and mulching, about tubers and staking and manuring…

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Oh, and did I mention that there was also a practice- bread-baking-workshop with Mark’s dear Mum, who volunteered to be Mark’s first ever bread student.

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Mark is in the midst of creating a one day bread-making-workshop, dedicated to the creation of sourdough bread at home, that will be scheduled for sometime this fall, and he needed to test run his workshop on a keen student. I am pleased to say that it all went very well, and that Mark’s Mum has proven to be a very fine baking student indeed!

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We will keep you posted as to when this event will happen once we have a date set. For now, I will leave you with the above image of Mark’s Mum’s bread.

And while we baked bread and planted kale and picked berries and staked flowers, while I learned the difference between verbena bonariensis and verbena rodina, more baby chicks hatched.

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And one of our dear ducks had a nest of 6 perfect eggs, for 5 perfect days, before the ravens came one morning and took them all away, sigh.

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Otherwise, Cohen and Katie hosted another fine dinner party.

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Which began with Cohen’s 20 month old prosciutto and fava-bean pesto on Mark’s woodfire sourdough bread.

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And we all got dressed up and put red lilies in our hair that night.

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Meanwhile, the tomatoes have started to turn colour on the vine.

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And the bees went up the mountain and into the fireweed.

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And people are still forming long queues at the morning market for Mark’s sourdough loaves.

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And when Mark is not baking (which is rarely) he can sometimes be found looking for slugs in the lower field, and occasionally, with a glass of wine in his hand.

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And now, I must be off, for this is all the news I have of Honey Grove, and there is a dog here by my side and he is gently reminding me that all work and no play is not a good plan for anyone. Now, he is encouraging me to take a walk through the woods and I must admit, he has convinced me. So here we go.

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For now, I wish you a magical summer of long days with good friends and bowls full of raspberries.

Bright Blessings from the edge of this West Coast woodland~

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