Farm Life: Obituaries

IMG_3069I’m not one to spend much time reading obituaries.  However, I have noticed that this is a somewhere between a pass-time and daily ritual for folks in the country.  Our local radio station even reads the obituaries, daily at 9 a.m.  Most folks know someone who knows someone who is somewhat related or neighborly with someone who passed or is grieving a loss.  The other day, my spoon clinked at the bottom of the jar of honey when I made a cup of tea.  I checked the pantry, but our supply of honey from our local bee-keeper was empty.  Today, he was reported in the obituaries.  Guess, my local honey source is gone.

I think that I heard is last name once, but here we just called him Arnold the Bee-Keeper. Everyone else knew whom you spoke of.  We met him a half a dozen or more years ago at a craft festival.  He had his jars of honey lined up on a table.  A “hello” lead to a discussion of “natural” honey, as he liked to call it.  He asked for his jars back when we finished the honey, and told us to just turn up the Trout Pond Road a bit until we passed a field then some trees.  His house would be on the right.  With a paper bag of empty jars, I verified his address by the bees painted on his mail box.

We did not have to wonder long about why were standing in his driveway, holding paper bag of empty jar, when Arnold the Bee-Keeper greeted us.  He thanked us for actually taking the time to drop by, then showed us his store of bee-hive supers waiting for the next round of honey collection.  Picking up a few jars and handing over a few bills was only a brief part of the exchange.

He had us come in, see his (and his wife’s) collection of taxidermied critters (the brown bear in the living room was shot by his wife), and told us all about bees.  There are history books that will never be written in the old-timers here.  But, if we listen we might  pick up some wisdom, and maybe someone, someday will listen to us.

He had his theory about bee colony colapse (pesticides used to elimate mites in hives), and his alternative remedies (sprinkle powdered sugar on the bees, then they clean the mites off of each other).  He traced this back to Egypt, but I never figured out how Pharaoh got powdered sugar.  Who am I to argue?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe kept our eye for Arnold the Bee-Keeper at various festivals and craft fairs in our area.  We always showed up with our paper bag of empty jars.  He always smiled and dropped the price, “People don’t realize how expensive those jars are”.  I even took my parents over one time to pick up some honey.  He asked about them from then on.

We can get honey, raw & filtered, at several farmer’s markets. But, from now one we shall have an empty spot on a shelf in our pantry.


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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10 Responses to Farm Life: Obituaries

  1. Barneysday says:

    Its the small craftsmen that make the country trade/craft shows so special. They all exhibit their special talents, and will gladly share their wisdom if given the chance. This is a part of Americana that seems to be slowly eroding away, and is something that will be missed. Thanks for a great story.

  2. Laurie says:

    This is a very nice tribute to Arnold. Bee-keepers are interesting folks.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      I grew up with one… guess that establishes an additional connect. I recall collecting the supers (frames on which the bee build their combs and fill with honey) and melting the honey & wax.

  3. The Vicar says:

    I have enjoyed your stories of your visits to Arnold for honey. Thanks for sharing even this and the connection that developed over the years.

  4. KerryCan says:

    I loved reading this! Such a nice tribute to a person who made his own small difference in the world!

  5. Mother Suzanna says:

    Gosh, I was surprised to hear that Arnold had passed. When we visited him with you, I don’t recall him “that old”. Time passes quickly as you “get up there”. Takes one to know one! I’ve thought often of our visit to Arnold the bee-keeper that day and the required amount of talk that you told us would ensue before we would get “down to business”. It was charming and I’m glad your life has these moments. Hard to find here in Silicon Valley. But…recently the local green grocer had some boxes of “local honey” and they reminded me of Arnold, so I asked “how local is this honey”. Well, it was from Fresno over in the Central Valley, but, heck that’s pretty close and a lot more “organic” than the fuel laden flowers of our neck of the woods. I bought some then and again just a few days ago. Wonder if I should take the jars back?

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