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;
detouring into downtown Redding for Cool Cucumber frozen yogurt;
picnicking on the banks of the Sacramento and throwing rocks into “Lake Redding;”
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);
counting turtles on a log near the Sacramento River; rolling a ball to Brother at yet another park;
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?
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:
My Babyman, sitting in the grass under his own steam for the very first time in his life.
And my little girl, with her first skint knee of “summer.”
And California, I am glad to be here. Thank you for having us.
2014. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.