September 2010

Another mostly still, color saturated day.  With a twist ending.

Hi, Bull Moose.

We’d love to have you for dinner, anytime.

Literally … did I mention Honeydew pulled a moose tag this season?  Keep your fingers crossed!

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.


We have one bee yard at Hillhouse, in the Big Field.

Fall looks good on this bee yard.

So I thought I would share it with you.

What does fall look best on where you are?

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

One year ago, give or take a week or two, Honeydew gave me the go ahead to start Glacier County Honey’s retail business – although he is happy to see 100% of our gorgeous white honey go out the door in 55g drums, I am not.  Honey this pretty should be placed into fabulous flip top, squeeze containers with wonderful no drip vacuum seals, and shipped to you for your pleasure!  And so, not having an inkling of what I was doing, I ordered 1,000 containers and began bottling.  I couldn’t justify the cost to print custom labels, so I spent hours in the tack barn, at my desk, and on the kitchen table creating my own labels.

And I loved them, the way the dark brown ink bled softly on the shipping labels, imparting that “love went into this bottle of honey” feel that it is important to me, because it is true of the Glacier County Honey Company.  I loved that the rubber beehive stamp caused my fingers to look like they’d been processed in a sepia bath, and I relished rubbing the dye off my fingers as I chatted on the phone, telling my college roommates yes, I started a retail business.   In short, I loved everything about the labels, except the cramps they caused in my hands and my neck.  And so I replaced them for the more professional, though still homegrown labels we use today.

Amazing what can happen in a year.

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.  Top photo credit to Lindsey Flaherty, whose boyfriend likes his Glacier County Honey with some peanut butter and a spoon!

Brother Dear went to the post office today.  His diploma from the Charleston School of Law was in the mail.  He ended up graduating summa cum laude.  More importantly, he received a thin envelope from the State Bar of Montana.  I am proud to announce that I will move for Brother Dear’s admission to the State Bar of Montana on October 18.

The question is, based on this picture, do you think the Montana Supremes will grant my motion?

Congratulations on passing the Montana Bar Exam, Brother Dear!

2010. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

It is again time to pay homage our backyard: Many Glacier.

Mt. Gould is all dressed up for fall.

As are Grinnell Point (left), Swiftcurrent Peak, Mt. Wilbur and Bullhead Point.

As one of my favorite locals, Stormy, promised me, Indian Summer is here.  It’s breezy, but it’s so worth it – the sky is azure, the trees look like they are literally gold leafed, the air is bathtub-temperature.  So, even though we should have been extracting honey, Brother Dear, Hank, and I all journeyed to Many Glacier yesterday, to pay our respects.  Well, Hank is probably off the hook from extracting honey, but as for the rest of us … we’re just under Glacier’s spell, I suppose.

At any rate: our initial plans were to climb Mt. Grinnell, but with 50 MPH gusts predicted, we decided that climbing was a poor choice but hiking to Grinnell Glacier was probably a good one.   And it turned out to be fantastic!  We especially loved the lack of people on the trail – generally, in the summertime, Grinnell Glacier is thronged with people, and it can be hard to hear the wisdom of the mountains above so much chatter.  That was not a problem yesterday, although the folks we did see raised our eyebrows: a cheery Japanese man in his dress shoes, carrying his lunch in an-about-to-break-grocery-bag over his arm, and a quiet European girl, dark hair cropped against her skull, nearly ten miles in to the hike, sporting knee high lace up leather boots with 2 1/2 inch wedge heels.  We marveled.

Of course, they were probably marveling at our trio, too.  We had earlier decided that bear spray was probably worthless in such windy conditions, so Brother Dear was carrying my .357 Sig Sauer and rocking his new Washington Redskins jersey.  No stated reason for that particular choice, but certainly a combination that caught many eyes on the trail!  And yes, it is legal to carry a weapon in Glacier National Park these days.  Congress tacked that law onto some part of last year’s amendments to the new credit card legislation, as I recall.

As always, we saw many things of great beauty and wonder on our hike.

The waterfalls were still running.

The Bighorn Sheep were still posing.  They’re starting to do their fall head-butting thing, too, though we didn’t capture that with the camera.

The mountain goats were out and about, too – don’t they look better when they have their coats on, as opposed to the mangy critters you see in July and August?

Indian paintbrush, still in bloom – wow.

Grinnell Glacier, our destination, was lovely, too:

We had lunch up there – Hank always brings the best snacks, even if he did forget his ubiquitous gummy bears this time.

And after a while, we went home, via Lake Josephine.

And we deemed it a very good day.

Now, time to get this honey extracted!

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co. Photo credits to Brother Dear and Hank, too.  All Rights Reserved.

“Hey Sanford. Come over here so Dustin can pee on your boots.”

Hunting can be a little weird at times. A little funny. I think covering yourself with an animal’s urine and painting another man’s face with charcoal is at least a little funny, but it is particularly entertaining to hear Greg Fullerton’s attempts at whispering in the woods. If you’ve met “The Beekeeper” then you know that his volume control is generally spotty at best. Elk hunting, at least with a bow, requires as-close-to-absolute-silence as possibly.  Silence that is hopefully interrupted a few moments before dawn, in the gray chill of a fall morning on a mountainside as the first notes of a bull elk’s bugle slice through the trees and the air and your ears and maybe your heart. If you’re lucky.

I think the term “bugle” is a bit misleading. When you’re armed with a compound bow and stalking a bull elk, trying to call it into your shooting lane and hoping for a swift kill…bugle just doesn’t do justice to the sounds that bull is making a few yards away. The elk may be ripping trees out of the ground with his antlers, smashing through the limbs of larger pines as it rakes and rambles. Or it may be quiet. At first. Maybe it is quite literally SCREAMING at you. Maybe you hear the thin lilt of a horn in the distance. Or maybe you get lucky. You hear a low, hoarse, powerful, violent WUGHHH, UGGHHH that sounds like it rises from the depths of the earth, like tectonic plates slowing colliding. Then the most beautiful coronet your grandfather never heard plays a long sizzling shifting note, piercing your reality and leaving you breathless, your heart racing, your consciousness struck true, thrilled and awed. The horn shifts tone to a high flute, almost a piccolo, and plays out the final trills with the gusto of a desperate lover. The sound hangs in the air for an eternity.

That’s how it seemed to me anyways, on my first hunt. I’ve heard elk calling in my sleep, and sometimes during waking hours, for the last couple of days. I hope they keep calling for me. Or bugling. Or screaming. Just keep them talking, and we can fill the freezer.

I saw the bottom of the deep freeze last night, as I was digging out a loaf of my beloved Birdman Bread that I buy in bulk in Missoula.  Life is better with good bread.  As I glimpsed the final depths of the freezer, my thoughts ran to Honeydew, who  has been out hunting elk with his best friend all week.  The freezer is partitioned into sections, and last year’s elk filled four of the eight.  Now, only a few prize backstraps remain in the very bottom of one the partitions, covered up by edamame and Hutterite buns and chickens.  Empty partitions await this year’s elk, and hopefully we’ll have to buy another deep freeze if Honeydew gets his moose.

This morning, the phone rang, an oddly modern and foreign noise juxtaposed against the sounds from the ancient wind battering the west face of Hillhouse.  Honeydew spoke quickly, and I knew he was in spotty cell coverage: “I got my elk!  A bull!”

And then the line went dead.

And now I’m so happy that I saw the bottom of the deep freeze last night.  Good job, Husband.

Not Honeydew’s elk.  Pictures will come when he arrives home.

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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