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.

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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.