Miss Rav and Ann Marie and I had gotten a recommendation for a new hike: “it’s kind of a slog, but I swear it’s totally worth it when you get to the top. You’ll just have to see for yourselves” our sort-of-out-of-shape friend said, and that’s the ideal reference point for hiking advice for me. I don’t want trail-running triathletes to tell me something’s a walk in the park, especially if I’m of the mindset that the airbrushed alter-ego trucker hat that Rav gave me and a tribal necklace will be sufficient for “hiking equipment”. Our friend was right, the hike itself was a relatively short (5 miles round trip) but insistently steep trek ending with a sheer-rock-face scramble up to a bald point of granite, Spy Rock itself… we were pretty sweaty, but when we reached the summit, took in the stunning 360 degree views of the Shenandoah valley on all sides, and felt the breeze through our hair, well, it was totally worth it. And here’s a video Ann Marie took because it’s awesome. “Do you think we can hike to that rock outcropping?” “Maybe we can fly there”.
It’s funny, when people you love learn that you love something, you all of a sudden end up with a lot of it. My grandmother is known for always wearing fabulous scarves, in fact, the only time I’ve ever seen her without a scarf wound impeccably around her crown is when she’s swimming (in which case she wears an awesome old-school bathing cap)… but I digress. The point is, she loves scarves and I bet every holiday she unwraps at least three new ones. Dear Miss McKay’s Granny somehow got a reputation for loving pigs, and now pig-jars, pig cutting boards, piggy banks, and winged pig figurines fill the surfaces of her brilliant turquoise kitchen. My own mama loves bird nests, so Miss Rav sends them to her in the mail when she finds them, thatched with Samson’s fur. It’s sort of a commerce of affection, you become linked with the object in the minds of those that love you. For me, this has most certainly been the case with honey. Since I’ve been blathering on to anyone with earholes about how awesome bees are and how fascinating their behavior structures are and how CAN YOU BELIEVE IT they will actually overthrow their queen like something out of Shakespeare if she starts acting unruly, it seems that my dear circle has taken notice. Honey from an old beekeeping couple Rav’s family lets keep hives on their South Carolina farm, honey from Miss McKay’s old rooftop hives that I taste once a season to remind myself of those sweet old days, honey from Anna’s acres, honey from Abby’s north wilds, honey from the beekeepers with the roadside sign, honey from Mexico, honey Rachel picked out, honey Mama and I helped extract from Art’s hives, all laid out in glorious honey jewel tones waiting for teas and hot porridges or even just a tiny spoonful dip to taste on the kitchen windowsill. Such sweetness.