If it can ever be said that I have evidence of the Divine in this world, surely it resides in a spoonful of tupelo honey. To paraphrase the 17th century English physician William Butler, doubtless God could have made a better honey, but doubtless God never did.
The estimable Dr. Butler was referring to strawberries in his original remark, but the principle easily extends to tupelo honey. I am not, by nature, overly drawn to sweet things but tupelo honey has a hold on the imagination of my palate that I cannot explain. The only other sweetener that is on par with it is sorghum. I love sorghum, but that is a story for another time.
In recent months it has become my evening custom to have a mug of chamomile tea before retiring for the evening. Its soothing, soporific effects have done much to assuage my difficulties in easily falling asleep. For this I am grateful.
It is with the flavor of chamomile that I am somewhat less than enthralled. For months I drank it straight up, convincing myself that the salubrious effects of the infusion outweighed the medicinal taste of it. The conceit wore thin and I ceased my nightcap for a short time.
The hiatus ended the evening a jar of tupelo honey landed on kitchen counter. As luck had it, I found it in a local grocery store for not too much money. This, after some months without, as the last jar I had seemed to be exorbitantly priced.
Such are the penalties we pay for our appetites.
So with this windfall of honey, I found myself once again in need of a mug of chamomile tea, but with little enthusiasm to drink it. It was then that the inspiration came upon me to lace my cup with a generous dollop of tupelo honey. The effect, I must say, was damn near magical.
I sat down on the couch to enjoy my drink, and as the first warm sips slid down my gullet I could not help my meditation on tupelo honey and what makes its existence possible. Trees and bees. Specifically, tupelo gum trees and honey bees.
But especially bees. The news of recent die-offs and colony collapse disorder had me unsettled. It boggles the mind to think that so much of the good things we take for granted depend on healthy bees. Fruits, vegetables and all the things that flow from them, like honey. They could all disappear if the bees die and do not come back.
The thought of it makes me sad. That night I added tupelo honey to my chamomile tea I leaned back on the couch and said aloud "Lord, I hope the bees don't die." The winter chill seeping through the walls raced up my spine as I voiced those words. I shivered slightly, sipped a gift from the Divine, and meditated on the miracle of the honeybee and its dance with the tupelo gum tree. To sing a requiem for them seemed an offense to the universe, one that I cannot bring myself to commit.