One of the first lessons in beekeeping C. Marina Marchese learned is that the female, the “Queen Bee,” ruled the hive. This jives with simple wisdom found in Smoky Mountain tourist traps selling tchotckes that read “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Marchese proves that even worker bees in creative jobs burn out and seek work in more fulfilling areas.
Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper shares Marchese’s first visit with a beekeeper and her immersion in the apiculture community. She constructs a Langstroth hive, orders bees, makes and harvests honey, develops personal-care products with beeswax, explores apitherapy, and becomes a honey sommelier over a dozen years’ time.
Drawing from years of journals in which she detailed the comings and goings of her bees, this book introduces readers to the beekeeper’s life and serves as a fine text for those who wish to follow in her footsteps, at least for part of the journey. At times, though, the narrative is dry and technical and drones on like a textbook. Marchese’s prose sweetens like the honey she produces when she describes other beekeepers, such as her mentor Mr. B, master beekeeper William, or when she describes the alarm her bees caused at the post office when they arrived in mid-May.
It’s chockfull of bee lore, bee history, terminology, and even bee anatomy. In fact, Marchese’s book serves so many purposes that it could easily be shelved in a reference section. Her chapter on the honey-making process provides enough information for novices to understand and successful harvest the product. Plus, the illustrations are useful as well.
Interspersed are recipes that serve many purposes. The modern Roman Libum recipe is something for humans to eat, and her recipe for Grease Patties is for bees to eat and helps prevent mite infestation. She includes a lip balm recipe for readers who wish to explore the personal-care market.
As someone who live, eats, and breathes bees, she’s quite persuasive about the benefits of eating honey and its products and their healing powers; she devotes a chapter on bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly. Throughout the book she writes as a strong advocate for bees and their role as pollinators in the agricultural ecosystem. Most exciting is the concluding section on honeys and her trip to Italy, where she honed her honey-tasting palate. Appendix 2, 75 Varietals of Honey, is invaluable!
Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper by C. Marina Marchese
Walking to Gatlinburg by Howard Frank Mosher
There is nothing but brotherly love to spur a 17-year-old Vermont boy south toward Tennessee. Raised by Quaker parents who are active in helping escaped slaves cross the border into Canada, two brothers choose different paths as dictated by their consciences. Morgan Kinneson’s beloved older brother, Pilgrim, a Union surgeon, was lost at Gettysburg. Knowing deep in his heart that Pilgrim isn’t dead, Morgan sets out afoot, covering over a thousand miles until the journey’s end. Filled with escaped slaves, idiosyncratic characters, enigmatic runes, stops on the Underground Railroad, and psychotic killers loosed from prison who’ve been set on Morgan’s trail, this story is replete with drama, intrigue and plot twists.
The further south Morgan travels, the more bizarre the characters and situations grow. Morgan is a crack-shot with a rifle, thus there is a fair amount of shooting, wounding and killing. In Morgan’s defense, he merely protects himself and those with whom he travels from a band of escaped prison inmates who’ve been set on his trail. They believe he knows the location of an escaped slave woman who owns a rune etched with a map.
Morgan travels with an elephant for a time, their party grows by one when a waif called Birdcall joins them. At Utica they leave the elephant with a friend, Dolt, to pull his boat on the canal, and soon Birdcall finds a home with Mother Findletter. In Lancaster County, Penn., Morgan recovers from a gunshot wound with the Findletters, the former relatives of Birdcall’s new foster mother. Mr. Findletter, an Amish gunsmith, tutors Morgan for a week in making a new gun from his old gun.
At each point in his journey, Morgan spies more runes and learns the meaning behind each one, yet cannot understand their message. Likewise, he inquires about his brother Pilgrim, the one-legged surgeon. Eventually, he discovers there is such a man living at an outpost in east Tennessee, but first he travels nearly to west Tennessee to a Grace Plantation to keep a promise to Slidell, the slave woman he traveled with earlier. During this journey Morgan transforms from a boy into a man and learns that his first impulse for vengeance and destruction is costly.