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~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

October on Honey Grove ~

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And so we find ourselves in the beauty of another autumn, among the fallen leaves and the rose-hip hedgerows.

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Waking to mornings on the edge of frost, there is no denying that summer has left us for another year, and winter is well on his way. And oh, how I love this time of year, for at long last there is a pause.

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The last of the root vegetables have been stored away, and the cellar is full to the brim with jars of tomatoes and summer peaches and dill pickles and sacks of potatoes and onions. Squash of every kind line the counter tops waiting to be turned into hearty soups and stews, and Cohen’s prosciutto legs, hang from the cellar ceiling, the invisible and transformative alchemy of fermentation hard at work.

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There are 25 chickens in the freezer, 10 litres of sauerkraut in the crock and 6 cords of firewood, stacked, dry, covered and ready to burn. Meanwhile, outside the door and down in the veg plot, winter crops of kale, turnips and leeks do not seem to mind the cold and the pelting rain. Sometimes I think they are growing more vibrant by the day, filling our baskets and our bellies with no sign of slowing down.

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And so the bounty of another season continues, but unlike the bounty of summer, much of the outdoor work has been done, and so one can go inside on a blustery day, sit by the fire and simply put the kettle on. Books can be opened and pages read, and occasionally, walks can be taken, up in the alpine, in the middle of the afternoon.

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There is, finally, some rest to be had. And I say “some” rest, because, as you well know, we never really come to a full stop here at Honey Grove. We are like the bees in this way, who, although they are tucked into their hives now (with plenty of honey stored) are still taking short flights on bright sunny days.

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And although the outside work may be lessening, Mark is still baking his beautiful bread, spending 40 hours a week in the bakery, where there is no slowing down for him. And Cohen is spending long days processing his pigs, with the exciting news that he will soon have some of his salumi products for sale, at the Comox Valley Farmers market. I will share more about this soon.

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And speaking of the Farmers Market, you can still find Katie and I there, every Saturday, even in the pouring rain, under a blue tarp, doing everything we can to keep Mark’s bread warm and dry.

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Katie, always looking much more stylish than I, eh eh.

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And speaking of Katie, she has been busy too. Making all sorts of old-world delights, from boozy Irish Christmas cakes, to Italian Nocino, a spiced green walnut liqueur.

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And one night, a few weeks ago, she made tortellini; for tortellini in brodo… A famous dish from Bologna, which was, absolutely incredible.

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The truth is: we live to eat here at Honey Grove, and almost everything we do has something to do with food, growing, creating or eating. Below is an image of  the perfect late afternoon snack, Mark’s sourdough toast with HG honey and duka. Yum.

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And now, I must be off, for the day is beginning and I can hear the rooster crowing, telling me that the hens are ready for their breakfast.

May this find you in the midst of a beautiful day~

Nao, Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and all at Honey Grove.

PS- Gus has just reminded me that one should always take walks in the middle of the afternoon, regardless of the season, or how many seemingly important things there are to do.

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