On a Cold Winter Morning...

March 15, 2008
By Joan Baek, Fargo, ND

On a cold winter morning, I was helping to prepare pancakes for breakfast. My family passed the honey around to spread on our pancakes. I watched the honey ooze over the sides of my pancakes. I knew it was sweet, golden, and yummy, but if you thought about it, it was gooey, sticky, and thick. Unless you smelled it or tasted it, you would never know it was food. I wondered why the first person that discovered honey had decided to eat it. How did they taste it at first?

I imagine that I’m walking along a trodden path in the woods. It is early summer. The sun is shining and no clouds are in sight.
I see many people huddled around something on the branch of a tree. It’s a spot of honey with a messy paw print on it. A little girl tries to push herself through the crowd to see what’s on the branch. When she sees the blob of sticky honey, her face brightens. She scoops some honey up and carefully carries it to a pile of branches. Everybody’s eyes are on her now. The girl uses some honey to glue some of the sticks together. Her sticks unsuccessfully slide down to the floor. She pouts and stumbles away.
An artisan gets an idea and takes a handful of the honey. He tries to mold it into a bowl, but he finds it is too thin for that. Disappointed, he shakes his head and steps back into the crowd.
Then, out of nowhere, a little boy jumps out. He uses his hand to pick up some honey. Holding it close to his nose, he smells it. He smiles in delight! The boy hesitantly drops some honey in his mouth. His mother runs up and tries to stop him, but he swallows it. He licks his lips and finishes the rest while the crowd gapes. His mother realizes that he is all right, but she chides him for worrying her. The boy begs her to try some. She reluctantly tastes some herself. She seems to like it.
The boy, encouraged, announces, “This thick liquid is the best thing I’ve ever tasted! Everybody should try some!”
Everyone cheers and they each try to get some honey.

The next day, everybody goes out looking for the honey. They find the beehive easily by following the paw prints that were on the honey. On the way, they see that the animal that had made the footprints had been of a squirrel. It was found rolling and flipping around in the grass trying to get the thick layer of honey off its back.
Pawprints lead to a beehive on a short tree. Bees buzz around, while the adults, not knowing what bees are, or what they do, get closer and closer to the beehive with little hesitation. The mothers keep their babies away, but those are the only people who stay back. One very courageous man approaches the beehive and cautiously sticks his hand in the hive. He cries out in agony! His pinkie is swollen red from a bee’s sting.
A boy sees what has happened, and he runs back to camp to get a few pieces of cloth for protecting hands, a bear cloak, and a fine net to cover the head. While the other man is being treated, another brave man puts the safety gear on, and gently takes the honeycombs out into a basket a little girl is holding. The children come out, and each one tries to get a handful of honey. While everyone is eating, some people go out in search of more of that popular honey.
One greedy kid grabs a whole honeycomb and bites into it. He spits it out with a wrinkled face. The rest of the kids giggle. A dog runs to the dropped honey and licks the honeycomb spotlessly. Luckily, the bees have bumbled away, and all of the people are happy.

I couldn’t help but smiling in the kitchen as well. Now, I started to think about why they produced more honey by using supplies they had made. They would have needed to work extremely hard at first, to have produced honey themselves.
A few decades must have passed for them to develop some technology...

I am with a group of people.
They are discussing how they can produce more honey. They don’t have many natural beehives due to all the people taking the honey. After they observe the queen bee for some time, we take it and put it in a slitted box with a bottom lid. The following days are busy. All of the other bees are pouring in. We wait and wait. Finally, when we think it is ready, we wear our nets and robes and open the bottom lid. I hold a bowl underneath. Honey drips out.
Soon they have many of these boxes, so they can enjoy honey whenever they want.
They present them to the public.
In no time, I am eating honey with my friends. A woman greets us. I find that she is the mother of one of them. We ask her if we could make some new snacks from some honey. She agrees that it is a special day, so she says that we can, if we don’t mind if she supervises. We, of course, say yes, and we hurry off to have a fun day of baking while the others keep occupied with the rest of the tasty goo.
My friends and I skip and laugh all the way to camp. While baking in the kitchen, we taste some of our experiments. We try to save some for supper, but we can’t help it, it’s so good. My friend’s mom scolds us for eating so much, but we can see that she loves all the new food as well. Honey is a great key ingredient for all these treats. For the main course, we create honey-glazed ham with creamy honey potatoes. For appetizers, we arrange fresh fruit with a honey dip. Crunchy, crispy and sweet honey crackers will be one of the deserts that are going to be served. Honey buns shine with all the honey that’s on the top. Hard candies called honey drops are sweeter than honey. Chocolate cups filled with smooth honey are delicious. Honey covered lollipops filled with honey jelly are the best treats that anyone could get. Mmm- mmm!
Finally, after the last of the honey drops had molded and cooled, we present the dishes to the eager crowd out in the forest. Everyone digs in. Children are hovering over a bowl of honey. They make their hands and faces sticky with honey, with most of it still going in their stomachs. Kids and parents think of more recipes like honey cakes, honey soufflés, and more.
I put some honey in a jar and hide it. I call everybody in, and I tell them that the first person to find the jar of honey wins the honey. After a few rounds of that game (called Hide the Bottle of Honey and Go Seek), we find another jar of honey and two people get on each side of a person, and those two people throw the jar back and forth between the other player. The point of the game is for the person in the middle to catch it, and the other people to try not to let that person catch it. That is called Mixing Bowl in the Middle. Everyone had a fun night of eating and playing family games.

I thoughtfully chewed my pancakes at the breakfast table. It was sad that not many people knew much about those games and recipes now, but I could remake them and enjoy them with my friends and family. I had a great idea!

“Mom, Dad, I was thinking of trying some new recipes today, like honey glazed bologna between honey loaves for lunch, and some sweet and refreshing honey water..."

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