Things have been a little quiet at the gallery over the past month or so, and not just because of the fall show season. Although the gallery is having its best year yet, it’s not quite to the point of paying all of the bills, so that’s what the Day Job is for. This works on multiple levels: it’s close enough to the gallery that after the workday ends, the bike ride is far enough to get a good relaxing workout before a few hours putting together enclosures, and just near enough that the trip isn’t an ordeal. The Day Job allows focus on gallery time, and gallery time allows a good decompression from the Day Job. It all evens out.
Besides considerably less stress than the previous Day Job (which was less a job than an experiment in how toxic a workplace could get before the Environmental Protection Agency declared it a Superfund site), one of the perks is travel. Yes, it’s risky in this day and age, but that travel also necessary for training and testing, and with a modicum of caution and a good set of masks for the plane, it offers all sorts of possibilities. Among many others, this trip was a perfect opportunity to view the East Coast of North America in that absolutely magical period where summer is over but where autumn cold hasn’t kicked in. That’s something I haven’t been able to do in over 40 years.
Not that this was a travel travel trip: between work needs and the absolute impossibility of getting a rental vehicle through most of the United States, most of the time spent in New Jersey was at work, the hotel, or spaces between. On the final full day before returning to Texas, though, cohorts and I stopped by a local farm, proudly announcing its presence since 1898, for a much-needed plant break.
Of course, it’s not just about the flowers and the squash. As opposed to Texas, which tends to have two distinctive seasons for honey (mesquite in the spring and everything else in the fall), most beekeepers get one good season toward the end of summer, and this year must have been a blowout for the bees. This meant lots of different varieties: Texas honey is predominately mesquite honey, which has a beautiful light color, comparable to corn syrup, and a delicate flavor, but it’s also a very uniform color and flavor over the majority of the state where it grows. I’ve looked for blueberry honey for years (considering that East Texas grows some of the best blueberries on the planet, you’d think that beekeepers here would be taking advantage of the extensive farms out near Athens), and to find blueberry AND cranberry honey in the same place?
And a promise for future trips. I’ve been fascinated with exploring New Jersey’s famed Pine Barrens since long before I discovered its collection of carnivorous and rare plants, and the batch of cranberry salsa I hauled back just guarantees that with the next training trip, I’m reserving a car. Or a bike. Or I’ll just stay a weekend and walk: my new hiking boots need breaking in, and wandering through the Barrens is a good way to do it. I mean, compared to Texas, it’s not THAT far a walk from Philadelphia, is it?
To be continued…