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

 

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~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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