Lately I feel like I have been encased in yellow. Maybe it’s because I have been rereading The Secret Life of Bees, and my head is full of passages of golden beads of honey, steaming corn muffins and the quietness of hot, muggy days. Or maybe because I have been actively seeking patches of sunlight where I can sit and absorb any light I can. On Saturday I went to a friend’s house and sat so long in her brightly lit living room, with the sun streaming in on my bare shoulders, that for the first time in over two months, my skin felt genuinely warm.
I forgot about winter, I forgot that it lasts and lasts, lasting so long that the beauty of snow falling or entire ponds coated in glimmering ice looses its poignancy. We commence the agonizing wait for the temperature to rise and rise, the days to get longer and the sun to warm our faces. I’ve realized that waiting for winter to end is an inevitable part of winter. It could even be called the purgatory of the seasons.
So let’s talk about preservation, because preservation is a way to make things last. It’s a way to savor something fresh many months after its been picked. Maybe I should have thought of this in July, when I could have canned all the fresh fruits and vegetable only to pry open the cans on days like this to give me an extra boost of energy. But alas, I was not so productive. Preservation, and fermentation rely on the wait, and purely because of time, they turn one thing into something completely different. Honey is an excellent preserver, and retains flavor very well. Next time you get some honey, try adding a sprig of cinnamon, lavender or rosemary right into the jar.
Honey combs are used medicinally, and in wine tastings, paired with tart fruit and goat cheese.
Yellow is the color of spring — the flowers, the chicks, the pollen, it’s also the color of honey. Today I had an interview with Dan and Bonita, the owners of Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield. You may have seen their asparagus or pinecone shaped candles at farmer’s markets or in general stores. They make honey, candles, soap, lotion as well as teach beekeeping classes and offer tours. I want to promote their wonderful business because they both seem very in touch with their bees. Dan said to me that beekeeping is like meditation for him because he gets to be outside in some of the most beautiful places in the area, and when he’s among his bees, he starts to think like them. He can leave his phone inside and just stroll among the hives.
It was clear to me that they both had great respect for the hard work that their bees do, and saw themselves working collaboratively with the bees to make a living. They help bees, the bees give them honey. In spring, the flowers give the bees food, and in turn the bees pollinate for them.
Bees are under enormous threat right now, as you have probably been hearing about in the news. Mites, pesticides, modern agriculture and numerous viruses have caused a blight to bees that has nearly reduced their number by half. I’ve posted a link that can explain the situation and gives tips for how to make your garden more bee friendly (hint: they like fruit, and berries — another win-win for the bee/human relationship!)