It was a week of hives.  Literally.

Over the long weekend, Darrell and I headed down to Chincoteague Island to celebrate my friend Nancy’s 60th birthday.   You might remember her grandmother’s story or the Swedish Limpa bread from a previous posts.  Nancy is a long-time friend, the Ethel to my Lucy.

I remember walking along our old country road with her many years ago pontificating about life and congratulating ourselves on the fact that we’d reached an age where we didn’t need those hard 2 by 4 lessons anymore.  We’d earned our wisdom and were ready to coast our way through life from this point on.  As if on cue, a huge lumber truck came rumbling down the road.  It was loaded with stacks of 2 by 4s.

It was Nancy who I called when the grief of my mother’s passing spilled out of me in great sobs.  Is it any wonder that when she asked Darrell and me to make the 10 hour trek to Virginia for a long weekend that we didn’t give time or distance a second thought?chinco 1

chinco bikeThe early October weather on the island was unusually hot and humid. People, and mosquitoes, were aplenty so given the choice of staying inside or armoring up with bug spray, I opted for a light spritz….followed by some heavy spraying. 

I didn’t want to miss out on tooling around the island by boat and tandem, seeing the sand crabs scampering along the beach, or gobbling down new flavors of home-made island ice cream by staying behind closed doors!

Nancy and her sister, Judy.  Another Lucy and Ethel combo.

Nancy and her sister, Judy. Another Lucy and Ethel combo.

Satisfied and exhausted we set off for home.  That’s when the itching started.  Maybe from the bug spray?  Before we’d reached home, hives had sprouted on my arms and legs. Though I rarely take medications, this time I went under the influence of Benadryl, covered in cortisone cream for days.

Happily,  bit by bit I felt my old self return.

Darrell and I had plans to harvest the top box of honey from our hive.  We’ve noted some changes over the last couple of weeks in the bees normal activity and wondered if they were readying for colder weather.  We also knew we had to pare down the hive in their best interest for the cold months ahead.  Maybe I should have taken a closer look.  Maybe I shouldn’t have left for the long weekend.  Maybe I should’ve gone out there to inspect in my Benadryl stupor.  But I didn’t.

bees disassemblingAs we approached the hive it was clear that there’d been a hostile take-over by yellow jackets so rather than a celebration of abundance we had to settle for what honey and beeswax we could salvage.  In the cool, hazy morning air we disassembed the hive.  I’m still sighing heavily as I write.

What a week!  The joy of lighted birthday candles and the agony of the itch.  The delight of stirring a teaspoon of honey into my morning tea and the quiet sorrow of closing up the hive.

I’m left keenly aware of choice.  I can choose hope or despair, optimism or pessimism, or just decide to be with what is from moment to moment to moment.  Despite all my planning I never really know what’s coming next and the truth is that I likely have less control over it than I like to think.

garlic bedWith the day mostly gone, I took one last meander around the yard.  Trompsing through the garden I noticed my skin didn’t itch, the kale looked tired, Darrell (and Milo) were getting the garlic bed ready for planting…and I missed the bees.

In the midst of my melancholy, there was also an unexpected pleasure: the joy to my sorrow. Red raspberries still clung to their vines.  I smiled. 

sept yard 5In gratitude for all the lessons our garden so generously teaches Darrell and me, I think I’ll put the last of its abundance into an early “thanks-giving” meal and make some Zucchini Cream Soup (dairy free for Darrell) followed by a batch of biscuits piled high with the last of those raspberries.  I may even follow-up with a bee-sting cake for breakfast using some of the new honey.

I’ve been tinkering with the recipe that follows all summer and am happy to finally post it.  I’ve been paying attention to anti-inflammatory spices and this soup was the perfect place to experiment!  It’s become one of our favored soups of summer which the quarts stashed in the freezer for winter can attest to!

Thank you for sharing this journey with me!  I hope to meet you around the bread bowl one day soon!  Stay tuned, Darrell and I are in the works for giving another workshop locally on Mindful Homesteading this winter!


IMG_9840Zucchini Cream Soup (dairy free!)

1/2 cup small diced red pepper

3 T olive oil, divided

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

IMG_98771/4 tsp  black pepper

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 – 1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp coriander

IMG_98844 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds), skin on, chopped

1 quart water

1 1/2 tsp chicken or veggie bouillon

*You can also use 4 cups of broth as an alternative.


Heat 2 T olive oil in a 4 quart kettle.  Add red pepper and onions and saute till they begin to soften then add in the garlic being careful not to burn it.  When all are tender add spices and stir.

Add zucchini and the additional tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook til the zucchini begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

IMG_9897Add water and bouillon, cover, and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 15 – 30 minutes.  It should be soft enough to process easily.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor in batches.  As an alternative, I have just let the soup cool to warm and then process.

If you’re not dairy free, this is great with a blop of sour cream and some freshly grated parmesan.  A few chopped tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of croutons also taste great!

IMG_9844Want to read more about my adventures (and mishaps) with bees?  You might enjoy this post:

I May not “Bee” Pregnant but….

Other post about the living of life right where we are!

Finding Balance


Mary’s Bio

My Story with Bread


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