Bees have been on my mind this summer. There was an incredible swarming, a dancing, buzzing colony, furiously attempting to make a home in a pine tree at a cottage in the Kawartha Lakes. I was at that cottage on their possession day. When the bees moved in, we all ran out. It sounded like the Snowbirds on the First of July.
It made me think about Patricia Larkin, chef late of Black Cat Bistro, and who is taking a sabbatical from active kitchen duty by instead turning to the trials and joys of beekeeping. And also about the lovely restaurant Clover on Bank Street, so named for the bee-food sown on chef West de Castro’s front yard to encourage production in her hives.
I returned from the cottage to find a jar of this on the doorstep. Red House Honey. From my sweet friend Joan. “Have you tried this stuff yet? REALLY good. Found at Westboro Pharmasave.” It wasn’t even my birthday.
So I Googled them. They are beekeepers who live in a red house on the St. Lawrence River and make unpasteurized honey, without preservatives, pesticides, or additives. They also make it by hand without the use of electricity. And they are poets to boot! “From Eastern Ontario’s full force gales to snow and sleet, to the sweet flowering of the apple blossoms and the whiskey scent of ripening buckwheat” — that’s how the story of their farm begins.
And now I have Red House Honey every day on my morning toast — toast made with Natali Harea’s whole wheat sourdough bread (she of Nat’s Bread Company), the recipe for which is stuck to my fridge door. I’ve become a bread baker this summer. Mostly because of Nat and because of the Red House poets and their honey bees.