We have much to report: the 1st birthday of our youngest beekeeper, the opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the arrival of July … but first, an announcement:

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We hope you’ll stop by and see us!  Please call Courtney at 406-544-2818 or email sales@glaciercountyhoney.com with any questions.

2014.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Falling in love with Honeydew was unexpected. Our paths had crisscrossed for years before we officially met at a 2007 party in the Tack Barn —- although to be fair, he claims he’d tried to chat me up at Charlie’s in a previous summer and was cooly rebuffed.

All things in due time.

When Honeydew appeared at Hillhouse five months later, swathed in layers of long underwear and the first shadows of the beard he can now grow proudly, to invite me icefishing I thought it simply an afternoon’s adventure.

I did not know that the early winter light would illuminate my path to marriage, motherhood, and business ownership – and our relationship is hewn out of the endless challenges of all three.

Tonight, we popped a cork in celebration of five years of business partnership: Glacier County Honey Co. incorporated June 1, 2009, not quite two months before we married.

We have, of course, baptized our endeavor in gallons of sweat, at least a pint of blood, and an ocean of tears. These truths are not surprising, but I am daily surprised by just how hard it has been, and also by how much I love being in business with my husband, despite the fact that our marriage, our family, would be less tried if we spent the bulk of our days engaged in the passionate pursuit of … different pursuits.

There are hot words I would un-say, cold actions I would undo, but on the cusp of five years, I simply choose to celebrate our mutual commitment to challenging work that matters, a life hard fought and deeply lived, a legacy that our children may pass on – or not.

Here’s to another five, fifteen, fifty years and beyond of life and love inextricably bound to Glacier County Honey Co. – through the wracking sobs and the triumphant glasses of champagne, owning it has taught me more about life, and myself, than all the previous experiences of my days put together. Salute!

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Thanks to Natalee Rowe for our beautiful GCHC wine glasses!

2014. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

Winter and spring continue to battle it out in the heart of Many Glacier, but as I walked to Red Rock Falls yesterday with my husband, my three year old, my baby, my mom, my brother, and my dear friend, the brave Glacier lillies were thrusting their heads above the icy mud, always the first to add color to a still snow strewn landscape.  We also saw several munching moose – no big surprise in the Swiftcurrent Valley, but always a fun one, from a good distance.

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The falls themselves were thundering, and sobering in their icy power:

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And of course we enjoyed gazing at the incomparable mountains of Many Glacier, where we posed for a few family shots.  It’s never too early to think about the Christmas card, right?

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And how I love hiking with this bunch.

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What a difference a year makes – three miles was about a mile and a half too far for Maggie last summer, but it was just right this year, and she had a blast, as did we all.

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Howard was an excellent rider, too.  No hair pulling and screaming —- yet.

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He even napped:

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This Memorial Day weekend, we reveled, as always, in our freedom to start our businesses, make our own rules, and live our lives on an international border in peace.

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Thanks are certainly not enough to offer to the families of our veterans who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our many freedoms, but we’ll say them, always, and remember.

2014.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Maggie and Howard, you are one month shy of 3 and 1, and these are the busiest but best days of my life. Still no time for blogging, but here’s a placeholder of recent Easter snapshots for Mother’s Day 2014:

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Raising the two of you makes me daily shake with laughter and fear, though becoming your mother made me entirely fearless in some ways, and utterly vulnerable in others. Y’all are the greatest adventure of my life.

2014. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

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As ever, Northern California in April does not disappoint.  The flora is so similar to the springs of my youth, in the South, that I walk the varying lengths of our Palo Cedro driveway, the Sacramento River Trail, and the upscale neighborhoods of Redding under brilliantly blue 80F skies in a fog of nostalgia.

The fluffy redbuds and rust tipped dogwood blossoms — both the state flower and tree of my Virginia birthplace — remind me of Palm Sundays and Easters in the Presbyterian and Methodist churches I grew up in.  There is a oval bush bursting with white, powdery flowers whose scent takes me to the Big Farm, but whose name I forgot somewhere along a trail that taught me about the aspen, larch, and white bark pines of Montana. At night, the tall yellow roses, which remind me of first lessons from my mother as I learned to say “Tropicana,” drift in on the the breeze, and I dream about walking through Grandma Betty’s magical yard with my children.

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There’s been much bee work to be done in California, and I’ve written a lot about it over the years.  In this first spring of Howard’s life, I’ve been an absentee blogger, but I’ll write about all that bee work again, in a different season of my life.  After all 1,500 hives of bees do not magically re-queen themselves.  But as the work has wound down, we’ve found time to play, too.

Over the weekend, we traveled south and met up with with very dear friends in Inverness, at Point Reyes National Seashore, literally on the San Andreas Fault just north of San Francisco.  This landscape was wholly new to both Honeydew and I.  A rollercoaster of a highway winds through hills rocky one moment and grassy the next.  We saw acres of fat dairy cows.  We also saw a bobcat, numerous deer, and kept our eyes sharp for Tule elk on these ever changing landscapes, which end abruptly in enormous cliffs at the edge of the continent.  Easing our toes into the frigid Pacific, we passed the time looking for whales, sea lions, and seals, while our little girls played with all of their hearts, as only small children can, and baby Howard looked on in longing as he stuffed fistfuls of sand down his diaper.

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The area’s arresting beauty was a sensory treat, but even better was the reconnection with friends that I’ve called mine since we all slung drinks and steaks at Charlie’s and the Babb Bar/Cattle Baron in the early 2000s.  During one season of our enduring summer friendship, I lived with them in the A-frame at Chief Mountain Junction, where I slept the deep sleep of the night shift, and my future husband drove past the A-frame in those same pre-dawn hours, on his way to his senior year of high school in Cardston, Alberta, Canada.

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Since that time, we’ve been in each other’s weddings but been parted by the professional and personal goals that required accomplishment outside of our beloved Babb.  Holding each other’s children’s hands down precarious lighthouse stairs, in the whirling currents of the mighty Pacific, and in lukewarm hot tubs, we talked-talked-talked, and we learned that time had not dimmed our appreciation for each other.  It was though we had picked up a conversation begun the night before, as we sipped Grateful Deads and twirled along Charlie’s sticky stage, and happily Honeydew, though he did not know them very well before, came away equally contented in a new friendship.

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All year I write and think obsessively of July, and I am always surprised by how soothing spring’s cycle of renewal is, in the flora, fauna, and friendships of our lives.

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2014.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Sorry, beekeepers.  No shots of beautiful almond orchards or fat bees here.  Just baby beekeepers, as the rain kept me and my camera out of the orchards this week.

But how lucky we are, as commercial beekeepers, to be working in a cycle wherein it is profitable to send our bees to California, profitable enough that our entire family can gather together a few times over the course of the almond pollination-shaking-splitting-requeening season.

It hasn’t always been this way.  It probably won’t always be this way.  This is agriculture, after all.

But for now, Honeydew and I are very grateful that he was able to come home to Montana for a little while, after he got the bees into the almond orchards north of Sacramento, and that I was able to bring our family to California for a little while, right before he took them out.

Of course, Mother Nature don’t cotton to no Google calendar, and we didn’t see much of Honeydew at the end of our trip, as he was busy hauling bees out of very muddy (thank you, Mother Nature, for the much needed California rain) almond orchards.  But we recognize just how lucky we are.  And while Daddy was busy with those bees, the sun came out, and the tiny tots and I fell back in love with Redding, California.

On a clear day, Mts. Shasta and Lassen mesmerize, and the Sacramento River Trail beckons a woman with an enormous double stroller who’s been cooped up in Winter Wonderland.  Today alone, I pushed that stroller nearly ten miles, stopping at various parks to swing and slide and monkey bar;

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detouring into downtown Redding for Cool Cucumber frozen yogurt;

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picnicking on the banks of the Sacramento and throwing rocks into “Lake Redding;”

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gawking at skateboarders (Maggie: “What is that, Mama?” “That’s a skateboarder, Maggie Rose.”  “I want to be one.”); feeding parrots at Turtle Bay (for at least fifteen minutes, Mama-with-parrots-perched-on-her-arms was every bit as cool as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny);

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counting turtles on a log near the Sacramento River; rolling a ball to Brother at yet another park;

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and watching both dissolve into tears when, after six hours, I announced it was time to go home.

California, Montana stole my heart when I was nine, and it’s not mine to give away.  But you’re an awfully torrid affair this time of the year.

2014.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

After this many moths of sporadic blogging, I can’t afford to bore y’all with the many details of my first solo flights with Maggie Rose and Babyman.

Except that I can’t help myself.

We were required to be at our local airport at 4:30am on Saturday morning.  My sainted mother spent the night with us and drove us to the airport, dropping us, her extra car seats, the double stroller, and one bag containing The Essentials (diapers, formula, iPad, cash, Xanax — just kidding) at the appointed hour.  We were under a blizzard warning and I worried that our flight would be canceled, but we sailed through security and into the round pens waiting area, watching the winds whip the snow lining the runway, listening to them cool the air to the predicted -40 windchill.

I’d never flown Alaska before Saturday.  I haven’t flown much in the last few years, a marked departure from my pre-motherhood existence.  In the interest of being able to get myself, the tots, the double stroller, the car seats, and The Essentials from Kalispell to Seattle to Sacramento, I left our heavy coats, gloves, and hats in the comfort of the pickup.  We wouldn’t need them in California, and my parents would meet us on our return, so why bother?

Should’ve bothered.

The gate agent gave me and my enormous stroller a doubtful look as the clock ticked past 5am, and beckoned me with a curled finger.  “Do you realize we’re boarding on the tarmac?” she asked.

I looked at my eight month old and my two-and-a-half year old, eyes glazed with the sleep they should have been getting, both dressed in footed fleece dinosaur pajamas — and nothing else.   I looked at my thin jeans and loose weave sweater and the swirling snow, suspended in the floodlights, and realized body fat percentage or no, I had made a major error.  That wind chill, even for a brief few moments, would be no joke to my poor kids.

We pushed the double stroller into the howling winds and the kind Alaska luggage gal placed Maggie onto the frozen concrete, as I balanced Howard on one hip and tried to follow her instructions as to how she wanted the stroller folded.  Our fingers — mine bare, hers mittened — were equally clumsy, and another thoughtful flight deck employee, dressed all in black and wearing mirrored ski goggles and looking for all the world like a member of the Taliban, emerged from the darkness, swooped Maggie up, and ran with her to the plane.  I appreciated the gesture — Maggie did not, and her screams shattered on the icy runway.  Cursing, I finally got the stroller folded and ran with Howard into the relative warmth of the plane as I rubbed Howard’s tiny arms and hugged he and Maggie tightly together on my lap.  Maggie continued to howl.

We were the first ones to board, and the most of the other passengers stared at me in disbelief as they shoved their carry-ons all around us.  When one asked me where we were headed, I answered, “Redding,” and hoped that he would assume I was a California native (no offense, Redding folk!) and not a nearly-fifteen-year resident of The Last Best Place.

We repeated this lovely scenario in slightly warmer temperatures an hour later in Seattle, and then I got to try out the “jogging” stroller abilities I shelled out so much for in this particular stroller model as I sprinted to the North Gates.  Maggie’s sunny smile finally broke the gloom of the morning when we dashed onto the subway and she declared that she was a hero, just like Curious George, riding a train.  I didn’t smile until I heard the jetway door close securely behind us as we ran its length, the last three on board the plane to California.

We arrived in Sacramento, the kids no worse for wear, their mother in serious need of therapy in the form of a hot stone massage, narcotics, or simply the ability to forget.

Sorry, kids.  If y’all end up 2nd runner up in the Nobel Prize competition, know that your missing brain cells are still frozen to the FCA runway.

Daddy arrived.  We rented a car not big enough for the double jogging stroller.  I insisted on stopping at Granzella’s for mufalettas, lambics, and cinnamon bread.  Clouds obscured Mts. Shasta and Lassen, but the five months I spent in and around I-5 in the spring of 2012 came back to me, and even without them, I pointed the little Buick north, leaving Honeydew in an almond orchard as we headed north to Redding.

Showing Maggie around our new house, she looked at me in disbelief, and I mentally added up the number of “new rooms” we’ve introduced her to over the course of her short life.  This kid will either be the world’s most well-adjusted or deranged.

Howard caught a glimpse of the yard from the laundry room window, and I grabbed a bottle, a juice box, and a beer, and ushered the kids outside.  As we collapsed in the yard (of our dear friend’s family homeplace that we are lucky enough to stay in during almond pollination-shaking-grafting-requeening season), I saw this:

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My Babyman, sitting in the grass under his own steam for the very first time in his life.

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And my little girl, with her first skint knee of “summer.”

And California, I am glad to be here.  Thank you for having us.

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2014.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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