In a previous post (Culture Shock) I wrote about the Immigrant Welcome Center, part of the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Center (CVIMC). That is where I was told that there was a name for everything that I had been experiencing in Canada, and that name is culture shock. Doh! I was also told that I am an “immigrant.” Now how did that happen? It shouldn’t be a shock. I am in the process of “immigrating” to another country, I am not Canadian, I am an immigrant. But I resisted that label. I want to be home, where ever and whatever that is. On the advice of the CVIMC staff I signed up for fieldtrips with the center in order to meet other immigrants and maybe make friends. The first outing that CVIMC was doing was to a local honey farm, Fredrich’s Honey, in the nearby town of Cedar. If you have any spare space for a late summer read, this is a good one.
Not that we could have left the house without him, but particularly since Little Man and I were going to a honey farm we had to bring along Pooh Bear. To keep him out of trouble, Pooh Bear waited in the car while we were learning about bees. Before anyone tries to report me for animal endangerment, Pooh Bear is a teddy bear not an animal. He is, however, almost “real” in the Velveteen Rabbit sort of way. The important thing for our story is that I didn’t want Little Man or Pooh to get any ideas about balloons and little gray storm clouds. I’ve learned from experience that Little Man has a good arm and can launch his teddies with surprising speed and accuracy.
Partly because of the way the trip was structured and partly because I was preoccupied trying to keep Little Man out of trouble I didn’t have as much time to chat with my fellow immigrants as I would have liked, but I did start on the road to friendship or at least to having people recognize my face when I come by. That was a good first step, and I’ll write more about this at another time. In the meantime, let’s talk honey…
The “farm” itself is mostly an occupied farm house with their Honey House shop located up the hill from their home. For our “immigrant experience” we were met by Margaret Friedrich, a wonderful woman who is an immigrant from Ireland herself, though her experience in Canada began back in the 60s. She and her husband, Theo, have been in the honey business ever since, and now her son and daughter-in-law are learning the ropes. For anyone interested, Fredrich’s Honey also conducts workshops on beekeeping. You can also read a bit about the ups and downs of urban beekeeping in a book I mentioned in a previous post by Novella Carpenter about urban farming in Oakland. Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer is an amazing story about her own experiences as a farmer in the middle of urban sprawl and ghetto as she raises pigs, all sorts of fowl, and yes, bees in a small midtown apartment.
Margaret is an amazing trove of bee-based knowledge. Some of it I had heard or read about before, but other parts were new. For the case of their “farm” the bees were currently up in the mountains since it is summer time and that is where the water is. They will come back in the winter, stay through spring when everything blooms, and then make their move again. I was a bit distracted by Little Man during much of Margaret’s presentation, but that was to be expected. I had him on a short leash, literally. Little Man has a much beloved tether that he wears when out and about in crowded outside areas, like large zoos, farmers markets and fairs. People often laugh or scoff at the leash, but I do not care. It keeps him safe, it keeps him with me, and he loves it. So there! J Normally at a place like a small farm with so few people I wouldn’t use the leash, but in this case I wanted to keep Little Man a safe distance from any fascinating bee hives, or other things that a toddler should not be sticking his hands into. Did I mention that Little Man likes to run around trees and get hopelessly tangled in his lion leash? Yes… that was much of my morning.
The Honey House was admittedly my favorite part of the trip. It is open year round, so anyone can come and purchase Fredrich’s honey and other bee-related products no matter what season. I bought a lovely large jar of wildflower honey, and Little Man was given his own tiny jar of blackberry honey. One of his and Pooh Bear’s favorite snacks is honey toast. I will remind him of our visit to the farm each time he gets to bring out his little jar.
Fredrich’s Honey rotates in different types of honey throughout the year as different plants come into bloom. Later this fall they will have a Fir Tree honey that I must go back to try. I am a huge fan of tree syrups; maple is my favorite but Indiana’s Shag Bark Hickory syrup is a close second. It is lighter in color than maple syrup, but is not as sweet and has a light smoky finish. Always up for new tastes, I am excited to try a tree pollen-based honey. I also want to call soon to see if they have any dandelion honey in stock. This honey is not produced by their bees and they were out of stock when I visited, but woman at the Honey House described it as rich and dark, gotta try it!
My final purchase from Fredrich’s Honey was a pair of two beeswax candles. The scent was of warm honey and bees; not cloyingly sweet and definitely not artificial. The candles smelled like what I want “home” to be. Now I just need to find the box with my candle sticks in it so that I can enjoy that scent in the evenings while I write. Maybe it’s in that large stack over under the stairs? Oh bother…