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.

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.

It’s been a wild day at our house, to say the least!  After staying up till 1am to make sure our two-and-a-half-year-old’s Christmas was “perfect,” she took one look at the (awesome) John Deere “Gator” Santa brought and refused to go anywhere near it.  This, despite the fact that her “best friend” Axel has a similar John Deere ride that she is obsessed with.  Hmmm.  Instead, Maggie delighted in the many nail polish colors and fleecy purple jacket Santa also left behind, and also in his half-eaten cookies.

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What do you want Santa to bring you, Maggie Rose? Purple presents!  And blue presents!

As the morning wore on, she did finally deign to sit in the darn thing, and once she did, it was true love.

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We all speak of and delight in our traditions, but what I really love best about Christmas is that the sparkle of the lights in December’s blackness is ever magical, but the players are never quite the same.

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Babyman, you’re my favorite new player.

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Maggie Rose modeling the holly print dress Big Mama made for me over 30 years ago.

This year, we celebrated with most of Honeydew’s mother’s side of the family the weekend before Christmas.  Prime rib melted in our mouths, Jingle Juice flushed our cheeks, and the cacophony of the cousins made me wistful for a large family, and yet grateful for the occasional silence that does occasionally fall over our two kids simultaneously.  It was a wonderfully exhausting weekend.

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For Christmas proper, we were lucky enough to be in our own home with our two tiny tots, and Brother Dear and my parents and Honeydew’s dad all came to us!  For the carseat/naptime set, being Home with your family is the greatest gift of all, I think.  Or at least it is for us after 30 solid days of Holiday Retail Insanity.  We put the “closed” sign up on the Glacier County Honey website on Friday, December 20, and although I’m sure we lost some sales in the last few days before the 25th, nothing we shipped after the 20th would have arrived by Christmas anyway, and the time with our family is priceless to us.

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I love the aforementioned lights, I love the tinny carols pouring from the radio waves, I love wrapping the mailbox in fresh garland, I love picking out the perfect trinket for everyone on my list, and I love making lemon spice sauce, bourbon whipped cream, and shrimp’n’grits from scratch …….. but I am glad that it’s all over with now.

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Time to pour a glass of bubbly, breathe deeply of Howard’s waning new baby scent, meticulously apply paint to each of Maggie Rose’s tiny nails, and lean against my husband on the couch.  We’ll clean up next year.

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Taking the Snow Belle out for a spin!

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The biggest hit of Christmas was probably the reincarnation of our old Brio train set.  Nan and Chuck added a few new parts for Maggie Rose and Howard, built a table for it, installed the whole shebang upstairs and I haven’t seen Maggie since.  

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Merry Christmas, y’all!

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Some photo credits to Nancy Stone. All Rights Reserved.

Oh, the highs and lows of small business.  There isn’t enough room on the internets for the tales of joy and woe we could tell, so we’ll say this: despite the extremities, we couldn’t imagine any other life, and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished.  On June 1, 2014, we will celebrate five years in small business!

To celebrate Small Business Saturday, we’re offering a FREE Honeybear Beeswax Candle (regular price: $12) with any purchase over $29!

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If you’d like one of these candles — our runaway bestseller in 2013! — just add one to your shopping cart on www.glaciercountyhoney.com.  When you check out, our website will e-mail you an incorrect invoice charging you for the candle.  Wait a little while, and we’ll e-mail you an updated, corrected invoice with credit/debit/check payment options.  If you have any questions, please e-mail sales@glaciercountyhoney.com or call 406-544-2818.

If you have other discount codes, feel free to use those, too.  We appreciate your support more than we can say as we look towards our 5th year.  Shop Small, y’all.

The fine print: must order $29 before other discounts in merchandise.  Offer expires at midnight MST on Small Biz Saturday 2013.  Don’t make Santa mad.  Etc.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Happy Halloween from all the beekeepers at Glacier County Honey Co!

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Dear July,

Our history together is storied, though I cannot know if our love affair is one sided or not.  I try to celebrate you fully, and yesterday, during my daily mad dash to the post office, I paused for a moment on our dusty dirt road and drank in the goodness of the last day of your July-ness, and I thought to write to you and recap our best moments together this year.

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As anyone who’s read this blog for any period of time knows, you are by far my favorite month of the year, and I was a little heartbroken when I awoke this morning in the cool quiet and realized today is August 1.

Oh, July.

We worked on most of your days this year, as the result of the start to what Honeydew and I think will be a very fine honey harvest.  Can’t complain about that.  Thank you for your bountiful sunshine and calm winds that helped the bees make such a great crop.

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But there was time for play, too.

In memory of my brother, Howard, we participated in our annual Beer Olympics.  Remarkably, for the 7th year in a row, the only injuries suffered by the enthusiastic participants were ones to the ego.

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Notably in July, our new son Howard met his Sissy, and it was true love on both sides.

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And Maggie learned about sharing Nan’s lap:

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Maggie Rose also went on her first self-propelled hike, with me, Howard, Nan and Chuck, around the Red Eagle Nature Trail.  It was a little too long for a 2 year old, but listening to Maggie chanting “Maggie hikin’!” for the first mile or so was the best sound these ears have ever heard.  Of course this would happen in July.

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Since then, Maggie’s hiked from Sunrift Gorge to Sun Point, and up to Hidden Pass from Logan Pass.  I really can’t say whether or not she actually likes hiking, but she surely does like the ice cream that inevitably follows it!

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Ugh.  Blue, bubblegum ice cream.  Maybe we don’t share the same tastebuds after all, Maggie Rose!

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On July 4, we held our annual Parade & Potluck at Duck Lake, and Maggie once again fulfilled her Royal Duties.

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She also played her first game of kickball, in the Big Field.  I’d be willing to bet she’s the only two year old in Montana who played kickball in July wearing Lilly Pulitzer — thanks to Southern friends for keeping her true to her roots!

Honeydew and I always say that Maggie was born in the Summer of the Snow.  Remember this?  Well, it practically stuck around till the next winter!  We’ll tell Howard that he was born in the Summer of the Bears.  They were legion and storied in July 2013.  This guy stole our volleyball during the Hillstock festivities:

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As the month wore on, a lovely woman who spends her summers at Duck Lake was attacked by a bear while walking just north of the lake. Not long after that, I ran into a black bear near Sun Point while carrying Howard, holding Maggie Rose’s hand, and trying to keep up with my 8 and 10 year old niece and nephew.   And then our dear friend, The Bear Ranger for Glacier National Park, heard a late night noise in her kitchen and discovered that a black bear had jimmied open the latched screen door and let himself in.  Now, what are the Las Vegas odds on that?

Definitely the Summer of the Bears.

Howard grew and grew each day of July, although at first his relative tiny-ness next to Maggie Rose concerned me, and I worried.  Funny how you can forget infancy’s fragility in two short years.   He’s just fine.

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July, thank you for your good humour and kind countenance.

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I will miss each you day until we are re-united.  Tell March to be gentle with me.

Love, Courtney

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Some photo credits to Charlie Stone.  All Rights Reserved.