February 2011

At 2:45pm, it’s -7 and absolutely dumping snow.  The dirt road we live on is unplowed, and though technically both it and Duck Lake Road are open, we discovered that the dirt road is plugged with snow and that reaching Duck Lake Road involves a cross country trip through a pasture that is gonna get somebody stuck good before much longer.

But we’re not worried.  These negative temperatures ain’t nothin’ compared to last week, when the Hillhouse weather station registered -34.  That same cold snap caused the Warehome weather station to give up on displaying negative temperatures and instead, to start displaying this:

See that reading in the lower right corner? OFL?

So now, when it’s negative outside, we just call it OFL – awful, just plain awful out there!

I am only mollified by the fact that I overheard Honeydew telling our California almond growers that this is about the worst winter we’ve had in 20 years.  May it be another 20 years before have we another one like it!

Stay warm, y’all.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.


Now, in the “normal” realm of the blog-o-sphere (does such a realm exist?), I doubt that a trip to the grocery store is considered blog-worthy.  However, this winter has those of us on the 49th parallel in such an icy grip that what should be a routine jaunt for bread and beer has become an adventure.  As a result, I thought you might like to see what my journey to the grocery store entails these days.

First: I want to say that those of us near Babb are so very lucky to have Thronson’s General Store open this winter, Monday-Friday, for our basic grocery needs.

I am grateful to the Thronsons for staying open and therefore I try to buy at least my milk and eggs there every week.  Invariably, I also end up picking up a carton of yogurt, some vanilla puddin’ mix for rum cake, and a can of kidney beans, too, but a big grocery run is best done in Browning or Cut Bank, as each town boasts an actual grocery store.  Now, you won’t find fresh mozzarella or mangoes at either store, but that’s what Kalispell and Whitefish, 100 miles west of Browning, are for!

Browning boasts the closest grocery store to the Warehome, about a 75 mile round trip, depending on which road(s) is/are open.  Friday morning, Honeydew and I reviewed the forecast, noted the predicted gusting winds and existing heaps of sparkling snow lining Duck Lake Road and Hwy 89, and predicted that both roads would close over the weekend and that a trip to the Browning IGA was in order.  As it turned out, we were right regarding the road closure, and as I write this on Sunday afternoon, the roads are still closed.

Now, we probably have enough food stockpiled in our deep freezers, refrigerators, and pantries to last the winter through, to say nothing of a weekend, but a pregnant woman has certain needs, and mine include fresh spinach, fresh berries, fresh half-n-half, and fresh … ice cream.  It’ll’s calcium needs are skyrocketing in the 3rd trimester!  So off to Browning we went, the atmosphere in our pickup shot through with excitement: Honeydew’s, to see his beloved St. Mary valley in the sunshine.  Mine, to pick out a tempting ice cream flavor: red velvet cake? Dark chocolate truffle?  Peach?

We negotiated the first drifts of the day, which do not appear nearly as foreboding under sparkling sunshine as they do when the sky is unpolished pewter and the winds are howling like a pack of wolves.

The blacktop was in pretty good shape, all things considered, and we admired lower St. Mary Lake, Siyeh, Flatop, and Singleshot.

We took our daily detour to the post office, and I wondered aloud if mail delivery/pickup will ever be possible.  It sure would make running a mail-order business easier!  For now, I better count my blessings that we have a post office at all.  I consider it the lifeblood of the near Babb community, my portal to the outside world of Sephora, Anthropologie, and Nordstrom.

We dropped our garbage off at the dump, and debated adopting another dog.  JUST KIDDING.  Two are more than enough!  But if you need one, there are 2 good lookin’ dogs braving the negative temps with aplomb, along with a pack of non-good lookin’ dogs, too.

Finally, we got on 89S and began the trip to the grocery store in earnest.  We passed our loyal UPS driver, Harvey, whose work ethic is to be commended.

FedEx should take note, as they refuse to deliver packages to us if snow is on the ground.  So, unless you’re sending us something in July, please don’t send it FedEx.  If they do “attempt delivery,” they’ll generally just dump the package in a snowdrift near our house, anyway.  That’s hard on oranges and other Southern delicacies.  Electronics and yeast for brewing, too.  Just ask Brother Dear.

Unlike earlier this week, Hwy 89 was open, and we chugged our way up the hill to Divide Mountain, admiring the drifts on either side of the pickup.

Generally, the view into the St. Mary Valley/Logan Pass area is spectacular from this road, but the drifts are so high right now that much of the view is blocked!

Honeydew is generally pretty low key about winter, but even he kept pausing the pickup and urging me to take more pictures of the drifts, saying that it might be a while before we see them this high again.

To which I replied in my best Southern drawl, “fiiiiiiine by me!”

We stopped and chatted with the road crew, thanking them for their efforts to keep the roads open.

They’re weary of snow, too.

On the other side of Divide, the drifts were even more impressive.

As were the views south into Cut Bank Creek, Two Medicine, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Forty-some miles later, we made it to Browning, where it appeared everyone in Glacier County was stocking up on groceries.

I got my spinach, my strawberries, my half-n-half, and my Truffle Shuffle ice cream.  Mmmmm.

And then we got back in the car and drove Duck Lake Road back home, making a loop of our trip.

There’s something about this stretch of road, just north of Browning, that always makes me want to roll down the window, to let my lungs expand with mountain air and dreams of possibility.  Considering that the temperatures were hovering at zero, I resisted this urge, but I always feel like I’m getting a glimpse into a future with no obstacles when I gun it down this part of Duck Lake Road.  It is a view I never tire of.

This picture is not so much out of focus as it is demonstrative of how the winds were beginning to blow as we left Browning.  The winds generally bring a new weather pattern with their power, in this case, a warm up from -30 to zero, but they also move the snow across the prairie and plug the roads with 10′ drifts, as these pictures have hopefully shown you.

Honeydew’s eagle eyes spotted a porcupine, out chewing branches in the arctic sun:

I was mighty glad our dumber-than-rocks dogs were not with us on this trip.  Pulling quills out of a hound’s nose is not my preferred way to while away an afternoon.

This is only my 2nd full winter near Babb, and so I still have much to learn about snow, and -30, and drifts, but I know enough to realize that I’m quite lucky to live on a flat dirt road also inhabited by the post master, whose presence at work is preferred by most all near Babb residents.  As a result, the county does plow my road – not frequently, and not often well, but better than this:

Our lovely friends and neighbors ranch up this road.  Do you see how the entrance is completely plugged, and the attempt to plow it abandoned?  They tell me that when the winds and the county plows combine to plug them out of their access to the highway, they “just cut across the prairie, where the winds blow most of the snow away.”  All I can say is that these fine folks are tough as nails, and Not Whiners.  I would be calling the county every hour on the hour to discuss the necessity of my yearly tax payment, if this was all I got for it.

Here’s a shot with the pickup in it, to give you an idea of just how tall the drifts along Duck Lake Road are:

Seventy-some miles later, our loop to Browning complete, the ice cream just starting to melt in the backseat, we turned back onto our road:

And it was good to be Warehome, sweet Warehome:

And that’s essentially what it’s like to get a winter ice cream craving near Babb.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

The winds kicked up again last night, undoing all of the hard work of the road crew who have spent the winter removing the towering drifts from 89 and 464 again, and again, and again.  So, we ain’t going nowhere.  Which is fine, as I’ve got plenty to do in the warehome, and one darling husband home from California to help me.

But if I did have someplace I needed to go – like my favored “beauty saloon” over in Whitefish – then this cartoon would sum it all up.  As it is, it makes me hoot with laughter – the kind of laughter that “hoot” was meant to describe!  Isn’t hoot a wonderfully underused word?

Thanks to my sweet friend and neighbor, Ashley, for the hoot-inducing sketch!

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Although I hate to admit this, I am … kind of a last-minute gal.  Never one to receive a term paper assignment and draft out a research calendar, dutifully lining 3 x 5 cards with advance notes, my skills shine brightest in a 2 a.m. library carrel, or on April 15, standing in line at the post office, taxes in hand.  Whatever I put my hands to, I give it my all, and I believe I know myself well enough to say with confidence that my last minute nature generally suits me, in that I work, and write, well under pressure.  When a deadline looms, I am not ignoring it as much as I am turning the problem over and over again in my mind, analyzing from it every angle before I begin the actual work involved.  I’m not saying this character trait is a virtue, but it likely explains why I was able to emerge from Georgia with a degree despite my attendance inadequacies, and why law schools exams came more easily for me than for others.  I rather like watching the 2nd hand tick towards a deadline, and was in fact a journalism major before switching my allegiances to the English department.

At any rate, in recent months, I’ve been befuddled with myself: I started working on It’ll’s nursery months before s/he is due to enter this beautiful world.  Months. Who am I?

Upon gazing at my belly, every person I share blood with or I’ve met in line at the grocery store has told me: your life will never be the same after It’ll arrives.  Yeah, yeah, yeah: got it already, thanks!  But do they really mean that life as I know it will change irrevocably even before It’ll’s birth?  Beyond the temporary dearth of wine, even?

Must be so.  What was once slated to become my private office in the warehome, and what had recently become a receptacle for anything-I-didn’t-know-where-to-put now looks like this:

Please ignore the curtain rod wedged haphazardly in the window, the lack of artwork on the walls, and the blue foamboard insulating the door against the -30 temperatures.  I didn’t say I had finished this project.

Various silver and pewter treasures – some were mine, some are It’ll’s.  Honeydew was so pleased to get visual confirmation that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth.

My old rocking horse.  Well, mine and my brothers’.

The most whimsically hilarious moose piggy bank ever, a gift from the gal who’s the closest thing I’ve got to a sister.  A basketful of handmade burp cloths.

A drawer in It’ll’s dresser, filled with 0-3 months “necessities.”  Calm down, Team Honeydew: there are Montana State onesies in the 3-6 months drawer!

My old cradle, filled with stuffed animals very old, and very new.

Wooden toys, old and new.  Do you remember Lincoln Logs?   Oh, how Brother Dear, Howard, and I loved them!

An It’ll-sized rocking chair that was gifted to me upon my arrival, holding an old blanket of mine and the softest monkey and lion ever created, recent presents to It’ll.

The start to It’ll’s library – again, filled with books that my parents read to me, and new ones given to Honeydew and I to read to It’ll.

My rocking chair, and the sweetest quilt that my mom passed down to me.  Do you see the pouch sewn onto the mama duck, and the removable duckling inside?

Sleep Sheep!  I hear this baaaaaad boy is a godsend for 2011 babies: he plays soothing sounds like heartbeats and rainstorms.  And do you see that quilt behind him?

This gorgeous quilt was handmade for me by my darlin’ friend LA‘s equally darlin’ mama, using fabric that LA picked out.  She knows me quite well – warm, strong colors – squash yellow, kelly green, chocolate brown, burnt orange – with just a touch of honeybee.

And on the reverse, the quilt is finished in honeybee stitching.  Have y’all ever seen anything quite like it?  I plan to hang it on the wall and use it as the focal point of the nursery, and my inspiration for all future decorating.  If hanging it on the wall preserves it, I wonder if It’ll will one day unpack it when preparing his or her first nursery.  I wonder if he or she will do so in the 6th month of pregnancy, or the 9th.  I’m starting to wonder so much about what It’ll will be like.

All my love to Honeydew for coming home and helping me to get started on It’ll’s nursery.  And especially for reading the car seat manual, cover to cover, so I didn’t have to.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

As y’all know, Honeydew arrived home late Tuesday night for a brief mid-winter’s visit.  For various reasons, our dear friend Steve needed a semi driven up to Montana and Honeydew needed to haul some equipment back to California, and so really this visit is a “business trip,” but I’ll take a dose of Honeydew in whatever form I can get.

He blew in just about midnight, cold radiating from his feet and hands, eyes wide with excitement about the towering drifts out on Duck Lake Road – just like he remembers as a little boy near Babb.

As a result, yesterday he drug me from the warm warehome to tour his beloved St. Mary valley, which he admires equally in each month of the year – unlike me and my shameful partiality to July.

We saw towering snow drifts, frozen lakes, and many, many closed signs – imagine that:

At the Park Cafe, we talked about how wonderful the pies were we served at our rehearsal dinner and debated our favorite flavors.  I got to going on the menu, which I can pretty much recite by heart, despite never having served as a “wai-tron” there, and after changing my mind about which flavor I would order, if I could, for the seventh time, I decided it’s probably a good thing the Park Cafe won’t be open until after It’ll arrives!

In front of Kip’s, I reminisced about my 20th birthday … and my 21st … and my 22nd … and my 23rd … and I think not long after that Kip died and the bar has yet to reopen.  A darn shame.  I never even got “barred for life” there!

We drove up Hwy 89S, hoping to go play on the drifts at Divide, but found the road closed right at the edge of St. Mary.

So we drove into the Park to see if our elk friends were available to play.

But found the road closed at 2 Dog Flats.  Sigh.  I really don’t understand why the Chief Mtn Hwy road is plowed all the way to the Glacier entrance, and yet NPS won’t keep the Going-to-the-Sun road plowed to Rising Sun, where the fun really begins if you’re a cross country skier.  If someone could enlighten me as to the reason behind this policy, I’d be all ears.

St. Mary, the Resort at Glacier, was boarded up tight, and I regaled Honeydew with tales of my days whipping up fudge and lattes in the gift shop, back in summer 2000.  He’s heard all those tales before.  He indulges me.

At Two Sisters, we again reeled off the menu to each other and I thought about sitting out at the picnic tables, having a Twista with Big John and Susan, and Beth, too.

With the light fading, we drove the Chief Mtn road way up past the Chief Mtn Overlook, to the Glacier gate.  Closed.

But February is slipping away, and May, with its saucy OPEN signs and summer help and out-gas-tourists, gets closer every day.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reseved.


And just in time to refill the woodbox, fix the kitchen sink, and plow out the driveway, too.

Though I’d be equally happy if he wanted to sit at the kitchen table and drink coffee and discuss the weather with me and eat all the chocolate-chip-pecan-cinnamon-banana bread I made in preparation for his arrival.  And the apple crisp.  And the turkey soup.  Honeydew is very fun to feed.

Honeydew is very fun, period.  And after a full month without him, I’m ready for some fun.  Welcome home, honey!

And just in case your darlin’ has been down in California for the last little while, living the oh-so-glamorous life of the commercial beekeeper, here’s a great ‘naner bread recipe that’s sure to please and can withstand the United States Postal Service, too:

Cinnamon-Pecan-Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 bananas, mashed (2 cups mashed banana)
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, plus another 1/2 cup
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to 325°F .

Grease and flour a standard size Pyrex dish – this recipe is big enough to make a “sheet cake” of banana bread, perfect for dividing into plastic containers for gifting.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix in the oil, bananas and eggs. Stir in the chips and pecans (do not overmix!) and pour into the prepared pan. Take the remaining 1/2 cup pecans and garnish the top.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 70 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely, right side up – for the last 15 minutes of baking, I turned up the heat to 350 to crisp the edges and top of the bread.  ‘Cause that’s the way I like it.  Enjoy!

Adapted from the Rachael Ray recipe.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

If you read our blog on our actual blog website, as opposed to subscribing and having our near-daily drivel delivered to your in-box (thank you for subscribing, by the way!), you may have noticed a new tab at the top of the home page titled “Announcements.”  I’m starting to announce our “free shipping” specials on this tab –  with a preorder, we are now delivering the best honey you’ve never tasted, and beautiful beeswax products too, to cities around Montana, such as Whitefish, Great Falls, Helena, and Missoula.  On the Announcements page, you’ll find out where we’ll be next.  I hope this helps our loyal Montana customers avoid shipping costs and get more bang for their honey buck!

Atlanta, maybe one day we’ll be able to add you, too.  Until then, we pledge to keep your shipping costs the same as ours.  If it costs me $10.95 to send it to you, it costs you $10.95, too – not $16.95 or any other inflated figure.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support of our honey company, and of honeybees.  As our beekeeping friend Valeri Severson always says, “honeybees are the backbone of agriculture.”  And agriculture is certainly the backbone of the world.

Courtney & Greg

One of our lovely ladies pollinating an almond blossom in Northern California, February 2010.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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