Thursday, July 3, 2008

bees knees

It seemed such a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Sitting by the water partaking of the Strawberry Social. My friend Jan was even willing to share most of the cream in the bowl of strawberries and cream we had together. She ate her tart on her own. Now, I know that I am allergic to strawberries, but have managed to be able to eat maybe two or three at a sitting if each bite is surrounded by cream or yoghourt or, my personal fave - custard. But not this time. This years crop is not liking me as much. I haven't felt like this since the summer of 1994, when even a hint of a strawberry, or tomato, or kiwi would set my mouth on fire with tiny pimply boil like eruptions. Most unpleasant, to put it mildly.

I am feeling better today. Less fire, but certainly a lot of tenderness. The roof of my mouth and the insides of my cheeks and my lower lip are a bit raw. I thought the yoghourt would help. It seems to have the most pleasing consistency to gently coat and cool and soothe. Then I got hungry and last night thought maybe some honey would be good. After all it is good for sore throats.

Big mistake. Having it on a slice of freshly baked, very soft bread with 1/4 inch of butter also a mistake. Sigh. I was really looking forward to that.

Honey slides down your throat much easier than off the roof of your mouth.
I tried to move it along with my tongue, which only moved the pimply skin on the roof of my mouth - agony. Next instinctual move is to SUCK it off the surface. So now I am pulling all this tender, loose, pimply skin. I held my face in one of those isometric exercises for as long as I could until the suction finally released and I fell to my knees. I found a hand mirror to check that I still had skin on the inside of my mouth. It was not a pretty sight. All white and puffy. I felt very sorry for myself.

But it made me think about honey. Anything to distract. Another blogger mentioned that her son was taking a beekeeping class. Sounds intriguing. Then I read about a truck that turned over on a highway in NB spilling its load of 12 million bees. The bees were being shared by Ontario to help pollinate their blueberries as there are not enough around. And there is the Honey Moon Suite on top of the Royal York Hotel that is now home to 3 beehives after a bit of a struggle with the city. There are various laws that govern keeping hives within certain distances of residential areas, even at 16 storeys above. You wouldn't think there'd be enough for the bees to live on, but along with the rooftop garden for them to play in, there is a buffet feast in the ravines and the islands for them to gorge on. I've learned that bees travel about in 12 km range, so whatever is grown in that specific area is found in the honey they produce. You cannot get more local than that. And I'll bet most people walking along Front, or King or Queen or coming out of Union Station aren't even aware of them.

I used to drive past an apiary almost every day when I lived farther away, and I loved to stop by their roadside stand and try out their different honeys. When I was growing up, we only had Billy Bee Honey. Usually creamed. Sometimes, if my mother felt adventurous it might be buckwheat honey. What a sheltered life we had in the 60's. The first time I ever tasted anything more decadent than Clover honey was in New Zealand - their honey rivals their ice cream and would warrant a return visit just for that if my carbon footprint wouldn't put the buying spree through the roof. Now it is possible to find honey of many hues and textures and flavours. From many different countries. Local is good. But so is honey from every part of the world. And, amazingly, honey is one product that can be made naturally in every climate. Every jar is subtly different. Every taste an experience like no other. What I have in my cupboard now is a Blueberry and a Pear Blossom. At $7.95 a jar it is not to be wasted.

Therefore, I sucked all that honey from the inside of my mouth and shed a tear.


  1. Allergic to strawberries!!!

    You poor poor dear.

  2. Oh dear! That does sound very painful indeed. I hope your mouth heals quickly.

  3. While I enjoy many different varieties of berries, I have never cared for strawberries. Of course it is one thing to not care for a certain food, and quite another to have one's body rebel at it.

    I don't have food allergies, (though it seems I have every other medical condition known to man) but I feel for you. I treated so many people who were allergic to one thing or another. Just be careful; anaphylaxsis is not fun.

  4. Did you have manuka honey in New Zealand? It's supposed to have amazing healing properties and sells for $30-$40 for a teeny little jar. Regular honey also has antibiotic properties, so maybe your intincts for honey were bang on. My secret desire is to be a beekeeper one day.

  5. Oh my poor violetsky, allergic to strawberries. And they are sooooo good this year. I feel for you.

    But you wrote this so well, I'm so enjoying the way you write, just love it. Hope you get better soon.

    I'll have to check that honey, there are a few sellers here at the market, good stuff that is local.

  6. Jazz: Yes, poor me. Interestingly, it is only fresh ones I'm allergic to - pies, jams etc are fine.

    Kinga: Thanks. I know it could have been much worse. It is not painful anymore, but very tender.

    Mr Night: They aren't my favourite berry either, but I do like them with other berries, and that little taste is usually enough. And I know I have probably been tempting fate all these years, but my throat has never closed up, only the pinpricks (like when you have too many salt & vinegar chips!).

    XUP: I've heard of that honey, but I can't remember actually, just that in 1989 we didn't have such variety here. And I love honey, the tastiest medicine ever.

    UA: Thanks. And I think the Brickworks market should also have some of their own honey.

  7. That sounds miserable. Hope you're feeling better....

  8. Robin: Much better today, thanks.

  9. oh my goodness....poor you, I'm pleased you're feeling better though now

    and fancy spilling that many bees....I can hardly imagine it.
    Iam thoroughly enjoying the honey R collected...:)

  10. Rainbow: No, I cannot, and do not want to, imagine that many bees! So you managed to get some honey out of that tree?


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