Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
It is no surprise honey is used as a term of endearment. In my opinion, there is nothing better than to be associated with one of the most ancient and divine examples of sweetness. I am amazed how bee's labor day in and day out collecting nectar from the stamens of full blooms, bring it back to the hive, and somehow come up with this sticky, syrupy, heavenly substance to sustain themselves and their queen. I know of no other being that can do this; turn flowers into even more of a pleasurable sensory experience than they already are. Needless to say, honey goes beyond eating. The ancient Egyptians and Middle Easterners once used honey to embalm the dead. Bees store the collected nectar in wax combs and fan their wings to evaporate excess water which raises sugar concentration. Because of this, the end result is a highly stable substance that will not ferment, perhaps suitable as an alternative to formaldehyde.
Mayans considered the honey bee sacred and used honey in much of their cooking. During the Roman Empire honey may have even been used in place of gold to pay taxes, and has been widely recognised throughout history as medicinal. Honey has its place in religion as well. Hinduism regards honey as one of the five elixirs of immorality, and as mentioned in the Book of Exodus, the Promised Land is described as a "land flowing with milk and honey."
In other words, honey seems to represent a mysterious spiritual connection between us and nature, while universally symbolizing abundance and prosperity. It is no wonder a post classical Greek tradition involved a new bride dipping her fingers in honey and using it to make a cross above the threshold of her new home before entering.
I enjoy sampling many kinds of honey from the Western North Carolina region. Haw Creek is one of the best known honey distributors, and all of their varieties are very good, particularly the blackberry variety. I favor picking up a jar whenever I see one at random farmer's market stalls. Earlier this season, I bought wild mountain honey from an older couple at our local market, and returned later to try their freshly harvested sourwood variety. Then I saw Frank offering rows of the amber filled jars from his hives at "Let It Grow Gardens". As I handed him some cash and held the tiny vessel in my hands, he said, "In that jar is a bouquet of all of the flowers on the farm."