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September 2014

August 2014

summer's end......

Joe left for work yesterday and then came back inside to place one red leaf on the counter.

Autumn is on it's way.

Last summer was so hot and humid I swear it was late September before it felt like fall. Now I can hear it in the rustling of the leaves..... you know that sound? The nights are getting cooler too.... and I need a sweatshirt on in the morning to cut the chill. I'm going to blink and the whole yard will look like this. I can't help but feel sort of cheated, having been gone all summer... like I didn't get the chance to soak up the sun I love so much. Oh, those lazy hot days in the hammock.....

Now here we are nearly at the end, full swing into picking and preserving things from our garden and the farm we get our CSA from. We've canned 50 quart jars of whole tomatoes and there are two 30 pound boxes waiting to be turned into sauce and salsa over the next two days. I froze 7 gallons of blueberries and another 2-3 gallons are waiting to be made into jam. Calendula from the garden is drying for some medicine making when things are less busy. Four 1/2 gallons of salsa are fermenting in the basement. A couple 1/2 gallons of liquor are in the works (blueberry & peppermint). The kitchen is a constant mess of something being diced and chopped and blanched and peeled and tucked into jars or freezer bags......

summer's end......

summer's end......

summer's end......

summer's end......

summer's end......

Tell me..... what's going on in your kitchen these days?

xo,

s

 

 


sweet as honey......

Did I mention that Joe wasn't all that interested in becoming a beekeeper?

It seems the bees (or the universe) had other plans. All my time away this summer made Joe the accidental beekeeper. I think he got to know them better than me.... and he got to know my our bee mentor, Wayne, while they chased swarms, combined hives (again), and checked on the hives progression. I was kind of jealous and happy all at the same time. Joe was the first to know we would get some honey....... and said they would wait for me to get home to harvest it. 

Joe is still the safest of the bunch.... fully geared when interacting with the bees. One bad wasp sting will do that to you. I'm a little less cautious, ditching my gloves for inspections at times. Wayne is usually out there pulling hive bodies apart with a veil over his head at most, short sleeve shirt, never wears gloves..... and this time while helping us pull honey supers to extract he had no protective bee gear at all. He got stung at least twice and seemed to barely notice. Once he told me it helped with his arthritis.... Sophie thinks he is one of the bravest people she knows. (and yes, she is in a full suit with gloves out there) 

honey harvest......

honey harvest......

honey harvest......

honey harvest......

honey harvest......

honey harvest......

honey harvest......

honey harvest......

honey harvest......

It's lucky to get honey the first year. Of course, it helped that this hive's neighbor had a failing queen in the spring and therefor got combined into one huge hive early in the season.

Just a few days after I was home, Wayne told me a list of what we needed to extract : the club extractor, a bucket, a contraption he built, and a knee high. He was bringing it all. At first I had no idea what he meant by knee high. Shows you what kind of lady I am. It's just a nylon sock. Turns out they still make those. He builds that little wooden tool for everyone he helps. With a knee high stretched over it, the wax is filtered out. Simple, cheap, and genius. 

We took 9 frames from the hive to extract. It was a warm afternoon which made the job easy. I can't even describe how sweet it smelled while we were working, chewing on bits of bur comb filled with honey. Bur comb is irregular bits of comb that you have to scrape off to keep things nice and tidy inside the hive. Extracting is a sticky job and you end up with bits of honey everywhere no matter how you try not to. Especially when we were getting the last bit of honey out and Joe handed me a spatula and said, you are the only one who can scrape the inside of that extractor out. Honey up to my shoulder, but we got the last cup out. We bottled two gallons of pale golden honey. It's got a strong but delicious floral taste.... so much different than anything I've ever had. Summer in a jar.

Thank you bees....

(and Wayne)

 

xo,

S

 


home........

home........

I flew into Boston on a midnight flight. Home at almost 2 am.

I sat in the quiet with him and sipped a bourbon.

I feel like I've been gone all summer, I said.

You have, he answered.

The next morning the youngest two each awoke surprised to see me here. It was the best day all summer. Both of them squealed and hugged me as tightly as they could, at my hip and under my feet the whole next day. It was beautiful.

These last four weeks were long. More than long, really. Things are heading in a good direction, my mom is healing and recovering slowly. The effects from the brain injury are small.... she has regained balance and mobility, is talking, reading & writing. There are things to work on.... but we do expect her to make a full recovery in the next year. The doctors tell us spontaneous recovery from brain injury occurs in the first 3-6 months (think of this as regenerative or healing recovery) and the remainder of the year is recovery through therapies (speech, physical, occupational). As a daughter, I can tell you the most important part is that she is herself. I cried when I saw a picture of her holding my new nephew, born just 2 days after I left, looking into his face with the same look I've seen when my own each arrived. We are so lucky.

It feels good to be home with my family, but things are not the same.... I don't suppose they ever can be. I think it's impossible to sit so closely to death, day after day.... sleepless, praying, wondering, hoping, without it all leaving some indelible mark on your spirit. And while the mark may not be bad, it is still heavy..... at least for now.

I feel grateful for where we are today, but rattled for the journey that got us here. I need some time to walk softly in-between then and now. It may be quiet here, I'm not sure really...... but in time things will feel normal again, I'm sure.

Thank you all for the comments, emails, and facebook messages during these last few weeks. The thoughts, love & prayers helped us all more than I can say. I have always hoped that sending light and love to people in need lifted their spirits in the hardest of times, now I know it can.

With Love,

Stephinie