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Stings, Stubs, Bites, Burns, Bruises, Blessings and Joys

All winter long we patiently wait for those idyllic and wonderful days of summer.  Our childhood memories come bursting forth, and we can’t wait to go swimming, invite friends and family for barbeques, and plan all kinds of day trips and family vacations! We design our gardens, design plans for building projects, pour over catalogs and magazines in anticipation of those first few days of warm weather. I look for new recipes using my fresh garden produce, honey from our own apiary and look forward to rainy days devoted to baking and canning. Suddenly the temperatures climb, the flowers and trees begin to bud and then explode with color and shade! That hammock beckons us! It’s summer! Open the windows! Our patience has paid off again!

But here’s the rub: stings, stubbed toes, overworked muscles, sunburns, those bruises that just appeared, constant home maintenance inside and out, and a multitude of summer battlefield woes!

The vegetable garden requires constant vigilance and lots of time checking YouTube videos to be sure we’re doing it right as we begin to bring in the summer bounty. For those of us blessed with swimming pools, this has been the summer we are using it everyday.  But, someone has to clean it, check the pH, clean tables and chairs, blow off the decks or patios and wash it down due to all those baby birds being born during June and July! (We collect abandoned nests and tuck 1 or 2 of them in our Christmas tree every year! If you need a nest, just ask!)

But blessings abound in so many ways.  As a new beekeeper, I check my hives weekly to determine the health and productivity of the hive. Even with my protective clothing my beginner skills have angered them enough that I have been stung multiple times this summer.  (My heart hurts because that little honeybee has lost its life stinging me…. and for no reason!)  I love my girls (workers are all female…hah!) and respect everything they do.

Becoming a beekeeper has brought me hours of pleasure, new friends, mentors and the real hands on experiences that give me confidence.  I hope to extract that beautiful honey in a couple more weeks.  But what is most miraculous…those honeybees have pollinated an apple tree that has produced nothing for the past couple of years.  My flower gardens have never been more beautiful, and going into the vegetable garden is like Christmas day! So miraculous to pick a fresh zucchini, or sun-ripened tomato, and it smells so good! Between our human hands and the “pollinators”, our gardens have exceeded my expectations.

I love looking for hummingbirds, and watching the monarch butterflies flit from flower to flower.  I love walking barefoot and catching fireflies with my granddaughter.  I love the smells of summer, freshly mown grass, smelling honeysuckle and roses. I love our impromptu bonfires, day or night, with or without s’mores! Our tropical pond lilies produce blooms that are so fragrant it takes your breath away.

Our three-rescued dogs (Maggie, Lucy and Beatrice) lay in the sun, (dog days of summer) and our African spurred (Sulcata) tortoise spends her day walking around the paths in our raised garden beds.  The chickens are happy and we’ve added two more (Easter eggers) to the flock bringing our total to 19. (Nothing like fresh eggs for our guests each morning!)

The local corn is almost as “high as an elephant’s eye”, and the first offerings have been delicious.  Seeing all the sailboats and kayaks on Cazenovia Lake often leads me to stop my car alongside the road just to watch!

As we operate our B&B during these summer months, Howard and I don’t stop until our heads hit the pillow at night.  There is always that “Honey Do” list, something else that needs attention, and endless hours of maintenance.  As mentioned above…the prospect of a rainy day has not happened this summer.  We have been incredibly blessed as we wake up each day to the sunshine and warmth it brings. But all these sunny days necessitate the need to be attentive in watering our gardens and plants!  Dang those weeds, they need nothing special to flourish!

During these unprecedented times, we are grateful for our guests at Fernwood Farm. They have made these days and weeks exciting as this c.1874 home is being loved, and all kinds of new memories are being made during the summer of 2020. It has been an unbelievable period of time, but we pray that things are just getting better and better for you and your families. We are all in “readjustment” mode! We’re Americans, and we are survivors!

So no matter what is coming our way over the next few months, I have a feeling that we’ll say, “this has been one of the best summers ever” even as we apply the Benadryl, use can after can of wasp spray, find aloe plants to cure the sunburn and look for the cutest Band-Aids to cover the boo-boo’s!  I know that Howard and I can say that we will anxiously await the opportunities to do it all again next year!