Nature and Nurture

All winter, I wonder about the bees. There’s no way to check on them. No way to know if they’re safe in their warm cluster or if they’ve fallen lifeless to the bottom of the hive.¬† When I feel the weather begin to change it becomes an exercise in patience. As much as I might want to, I will not risk opening the hive to take a peek, as that could cause them to break cluster early. So every day I glance in their direction, hoping to see activity, and finally, on a day like today, they fly.

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I did a lot of research when we got the hive. Most of what I learned I decided to ignore completely. For our hive there are no ‘treatments’, no chemicals, and minimal intervention. My job, as I see it, is to be sure I’m providing enough space and enough food for them to do what they need to do, not to attempt to manipulate their development. This is anathema in parts of the beekeeping world, but it’s my belief that our interference is likely to do more harm than good, and that bees can manage themselves to maintain a strong colony. My mantra when making decisions about entering or manipulating the hive is, when in doubt, don’t.

This particular hive is now emerging for its third Spring. They have had plenty of honey to see them through each winter, and we have brought 30-35 pounds a year into the house ourselves. Seems they know what they’re doing.

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Place Value

My late winter/early spring project is taming our basement. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again, I’m sure, but I’m attacking it a little bit differently this time.

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I was thinking¬† about mise en place, like you do, and was inspired to think of the storage in the basement in a similar way. How can I best arrange things so that when Andrew wants to do woodworking, everything is handily available for him? When I want to can, all of my tools are quickly accessible? When it’s time to paint the hallway, supplies are ready to go? I know the value of this kind of thinking in our living spaces. It’s time to bring it to our dank and dusty spaces too.

Wrinkle In Time

Dagny and I have been sorting photos with my mom. We’re labeling and scanning them so the whole (big) family can access them and know who’s who. One part of this process I’m most excited about is Dagny’s using her Photoshop skills to repair some of the older, damaged photos, taking them from this:

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to this:

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A dimpled elbow like that needs to be preserved for future generations, wouldn’t you agree?

A Watched Pot

Every morning we set a giant pot of sap on the burner. It boils and roils and creates its own damp weather system above the stove. At the end of the day, we are left with golden sweet syrup.

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Unless, of course, we mistake the amount of time left to boil and step away from the kitchen, as I did today. Then we are left with billows of smoke and a pot lined with foul-smelling ash. Can’t say I recommend it on pancakes.

On the Mend

I can’t remember where this blanket came from or when I got it. It seems it’s always been here. Fireworks, meteor showers, picnics, drive-in movies, camping – it goes where we go.

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Its latest trip through the laundry reminded me that I had better do a bit of repair before it became more hole than blanket.  A podcast on permaculture provided background interest as I exercised my rudimentary sewing skills, and now both the blanket and I are better prepared for the coming Spring.

Around the Corner

We’re taking a break from house projects. Time to save up a bit of money, energy, and enthusiasm to tackle what’s left to do. This morning I came across a series of photos from when we worked on the craft room.

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Looking at them I feel half inspired to get to the next project and half exhausted just thinking about how much time and effort one little corner takes.

Eyes Wide Open

I’m working on a baby blanket. I decided to take some time today to transform the easily tangled commercial skeins of yarn into balls that are less likely to make me swear while I’m crocheting. I like my baby blankets to be filled with love and good thoughts, not echoes of frustration.

I spun and spun, and while I spun I thought about being the mom of a new baby, and I thought about being the mom of a married woman on her way, with her camera, to capture another woman’s wedding day, and I thought about how quickly I went from being one to the other. Layers of yarn spun on top of each other, each one disappearing as the next covered it, and suddenly the end of the yarn flew through my fingers and I was done.

In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Out with a Bang

I’m calling it: My canning season is officially over.

My last hurrah involved 40+ pounds of apples, two giant pots, and two slow cookers belching cinnamon scented air.

Apple butter has been tested and approved, jar lids have pinged, time for brownies.