Eydie and Sammy meet beekeeper Dan

August 3, 2008 at 11:00 am (Bees, honey, Mead Making, New friends) (, , , , , , , , , , )



By Eydie Wight

On the way home from Brother John’s house Sammy and I were discussing how every component needed to start our mead making attempt had fallen into place except the honey! We had priced honey at four or five places from the health food store to Sam’s club to the local grocery stores. We had also put out an all points bulletin to our friends to see if anyone had any leads on honey. Well, we had actually heard from three people who suggested the same person. I knew Dan slightly from his too infrequent visits to our writer’s group. I think I remember one piece that he had written about the sea that was very deeply attuned to the earth and it’s rhythms. I liked it and hoped he would keep writing. Sammy and I heard that Dan had begun beekeeping and possibly had some honey for sale. We called the number, left a message, missed his call back, left another message, played some phone tag, and finally got through as we were on our way home. Dan (our hopeful honey supplier) invited us to come by his house and check out the honey he had.

What a completely excellent way to end the best weekend we had had in a long time! Dan lives in an old farmhouse that has so much character. I didn’t want to be rude but I kept looking. There was an old wood stove in the living room, and varied artwork on the walls, two loving dogs to be petted, friendly cats (one a big orange poly dactyl, another a young yellow fellow just full of curiosity and life), bee books and articles inviting a good read at the kitchen table, china cats and knickknacks. I felt a wave of nostalgia, it was like being in my Granny and Granddad’s home again. It was comfortable. It was lovely.

We started talking about homemade wines and Dan mentioned that dandelion wine was one of his favorites. Well, I just happened to have part of a bottle that Brother John had given back to me (it not being one of Brother John’s favorites) and I dashed out to the car, tauting the virtues of my wine all the way. My dandelion wine is made the old fashioned way with baker’s yeast, fermented in the bottle, with the sludge allowed to sink down to the bottom. Dan brought out a bottle one of his friends had made that make my wine look like pond scum. He dandelion offering had the color of the first warm spring sunshine and tasted like a smile. Next thing I knew Dan had given us a bottle of his homemade strawberry wine to take home.

We started talking about bees, and beekeeping. Dan explained that he is new to beekeeping and has gotten involved after hearing if the dwindling of the American honeybees. He has four hives now and does all he can to not distress the bees. He told us he can tell a happy bee buzz from an unhappy one. I was sold right there without ever seeing (or tasting) the honey. Of course then I saw the honeycomb with it’s loaded amber treasure and had a spoonful. I was hooked. We bought 25 lbs right then and there, enough for the mead and a few jars for us. Dan also gave us some eggs from free range chickens. When I cooked them the next day they had the biggest, yellowest yolks I had ever seen! Sammy and I agreed that we had been truly blessed to meet such a gentle, courteous friend as we found in Dan.

We even talked on the way home about trying our hand at beekeeping. I have seen so many honeybees at our place, especially around my lavender, hyssop, and lemon balm. I think I could give them a happy place to live. We slept so peacefully that night, visions of honeybees and big yellow cats companionably drinking mead at the kitchen table…(Maybe I shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine!)

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How we first discovered Mead.

August 1, 2008 at 8:00 am (Mead Making) (, , , , , , , , , )


By Eydie Wight

My first experience with Mead came from a fellow writer from my writer’s group. Jim was a song smith, a rather opinionated and gruff sort. The first time I attended Writer’s Group I sat shaking in my sandals as Jim systematically told it like it was to the poets and narrators who proceeded me. When it was my turn and I read my poem, “When Lydia Was Ten“, Jim took a sip of this amber colored stuff he had in a paper cup, and shoved the copy of my poem back at me. I thought, “Oh god, it was so horrible he doesn’t even want to have a copy of it. I’m about to be drummed out of the group on my very first visit.” I started to put the paper back in my folder (my special blue plastic folder with the hippie flowers on it that I had bought special for the meeting) and he said, “Hey, what are you doing with that?” I swallowed and thought, “What, does he want me to crumple it up and throw it away so the taint will be removed from the hallowed hall? Do I need to ceremoniously set fire to it?” He said, “I want you to sign that and give it back, it’ll be worth something one day.” And then the poet laureate of Perry County, a beautiful young woman named Elizabeth, a woman so talented and radiant I had only been able to sneak glimpses of her throughout the meeting, said, in an affected tone of voice, “Well, you know you aren’t supposed to walk in here from off the street and show us all up.” And then they all clapped for me and passed me a cup of the amber stuff. I took a sip of that pure honey rush and knew that I would carry that moment with me for the rest of life as one my best top five.

Jim died a week after that in a freak canoe accident, caught in flood waters and an undercut rock. He would meet some friends every year to canoe and camp. He had taken some of the poems from the writer’s group to share with his friends and mine was one he had with him. Jim’s wife brought in some of Jim’s homemade mead, which I found out was the amber stuff in the cups, from time to time to share with writer’s group and that was how my husband Sammy got his first taste of it.

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