A Busy Bee

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

 What a busy July it was for us here at Blueberry Barn! Our Russia trip, a big family reunion, two of my siblings staying with us for two whole weeks, and shows performed on cruise ships! I have been a busy little bee finding plenty of work to put my hands to - and lots of fun as well!

Not only had July been a busy month, but it was also the nicest on record in Juneau history. What an amazing blessing it was to be out in the sun so often, and the heat! - it certainly didn't feel like I was living in Alaska. I went swimming so many times I can't even remember them all - and I'm sure you can guess how cold the water is.

When its nice in Juneau, everyone goes a bit crazy and lets certain household chores slip by the way side...so instead of cleaning or tidying up the house one fine day, Quinn and I decided to go flower picking.

But this wasn't just for the beauty of the tall fireweed stalks, oh no! We were going to try our hands at making fireweed honey. You may remember two years ago when we made fireweed syrup - this turned out quite well (for you know I love floral tastes!) and I was excited to try something a little different.

The fireweed is the state flower of Alaska and is so named because it is the first plant to grow after a forest fire. It is also a telltale sign of the end of summer, as once it starts fluffing up with cotton you know autumn is coming along the bend. As I write this the warm sunny days seem to be behind us and have been replaced with colder, wet weather. I sure do hope there are a few sunny days left for us before autumn really sets in! But back to the flower picking...

The recipe we were following called for 50 fireweed flowers, 40 white clover, and 40 purple clover (along with five pounds of sugar - oh my!). With basket in hand we started picking, the wind blowing the tall stalks this way and that in the warm summer wind.

In most places the fireweed flowers are at the top of the stalk, signifying that summer is coming to an end, but there were still quite a few stalks with most of their flowers still blooming. I think they are the prettiest when the stalks are full of blooming pink flowers!

Even though its been sunny, I've tried to keep my skin from getting burnt and rosy (my sun hats have come in handy for this!). My poor fair skin can't take too much sun before I start looking almost as neon as the flowers! Haha!

Reaching towards the bluest sky
Watching ravens fly on by
Up we reach pink, purple, green
A sea of flowers to be seen.

Soon we'll be beat by winter snow
The rain that comes, the winds that blow
Or maybe fire burning bright
To burn the trees and split the night
Fear for us not, for after spring
We'll be here once more, our song to sing.

- Fireweed - 
{From my poetry journal}

Locals of Juneau seeing these photos will know exactly where Quinn and I went to pick our fireweed flowers (it's a favorite spot to photographers for obvious reasons). However, looking at these photos you may never know the truth about this spot - for Quinn is a good photographer. Would you ever guess that this lovely, tranquil spot is in fact not so tranquil? Because in fact, it is not in the middle of nowhere, it is in fact by a busy highway and the Juneau airport.
Even though this lovely field of flowers is sandwiched between the airport and the highway, it's still by far the prettiest fireweed field around so it was fun none the less (even if the honking cars and the loud sounds of planes taking off did take away from the overall mood...haha!). 

It was back to the Barn for us to find some clover and to start cooking!

It seems picking flowers on the side of the road is the theme for today, for we are lucky to have a big purple clover-patch right down the street from the Barn. I've asked Quinn several times if he feels at all embarrassed walking beside me when I'm wearing dresses or dirndls or anything considered peculiar. Thankfully, he's not! I certainly lucked out on marrying a man who likes to wear kilts and pink bunny costumes and therefore doesn't mind me dressing up like a Russian babushka! 

I was recently enchanted by a book of Melissa's called "Drawn From New England" which is about the life of Tasha Tudor (written by her daughter, Bethany Tudor). It had several pages detailing Tasha's early life along with pictures of her in her teens and twenties. I was quite struck by the fact that we had so much in common. In the photos Tasha wore dresses and outfits from centuries past - much as I enjoy doing! I think we would have been good friends. My favorite photo of Tasha showed her posing under a very large rhubarb leaf as a young girl. Our rhubarb has been moved to a new location, so it hasn't gotten quite this big yet, instead I chose a large skunk cabbage leaf so I could emulate the old photograph. What do you think? I think we make quite the pair.

With plenty of purple and white clover I think we were near to cooking up some honey! (I may have added in some rose petals as well, just for the fun of it...)
Cooking with flowers is such a joy - I really should do it more often! Do you, Dear Reader, have any favorite recipes that use edible flowers? Please share them with me below in the comment section - I would love to try them.

The fireweed looked so pretty mixed in with the clover and rose petals that I had Quinn take another picture. It reminds me of little kids making mud pies decorated with wild flowers and having tea parties under big spruce trees (did you ever do this? I know I did!).

My siblings Wesley and Valerie were visiting us and Wesley offered to help with the canning and the honey making. He sure looks fine in front of the stove, I'm sure he will make some lucky girl very happy someday.

And speaking of the honey making: five pounds of sugar doesn't look as scary when mixed with lots of flowers. Of course, you wouldn't want to eat all this honey at once, but a little drizzle on some toast? Why that sounds like heaven to me.
We added water and soon we had a bubbling pot of golden honey. After straining it we started the canning process - which is always a little stressful with so much boiling water in such a tiny kitchen.

Wesley got to take home the biggest jar of honey for all his help, and both he and Quinn got to lick the bowl after all the jars were filled. We'll keep a few jars for ourselves of course, but I think most will be given away as gifts this winter. Fireweed honey will certainly be a welcome memory of summer once the snow starts falling!

Thank you so much Dear Friend for reading along on our adventure. I hope you're having a wonderful week and I look forward to chatting with you again soon!

P.S. - Below you'll see just how big the fireweed stalks can get compared to my height!


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  2. This is so lovely, I put a link on my facebook page: Bernideen's Tea Time, Cottage and Garden

  3. Thank you for such a happy blogpost!

    My favorite rose recipe is Rose Lemonade from Victoria Magazine. Have I linked it before? Anyway here it is :-)


  4. Hello, I went by to say hello, since I've been disconnected from everything for a long time. As always I love your work. That I still think that they are not chapucillas, but great works. A kiss.


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