Our neighbor Alice came round yesterday afternoon with a small plastic bag of mushrooms–a present for me, she said.
Mousserons she called them–I asked her to write it down, I had never heard of them.
They were delicate looking–white on top and underneath.
If I’d seen them in a field I would have avoided them; I’m wary of wild mushrooms.
“Merci beaucoup, Alice–on les cuisine comment? [How do you cook them?]
“With a bechamel sauce or a sauce made from veal bones.”
“Ah,” I said, thinking, “Not quite my style!”
“Then sprinkled with parmesan and browned in the oven.”
“Ah–oui?” I was surprised that Alice–French countrywoman that she is– would think of using Italian cheese in her cooking.
Mousserons have a short season, Alice said, and grow in (fairy) circles.
She knows where to look for mushrooms. Last year she brought us some delicious morels–pretty, brown and conically shaped.
We had the mousserons last night, cooked less ambitiously: sautéed in olive oil and served on a piece of toast brushed with garlic.
Alice then suggested to Meredith it was time to check on the bees.
The colza crop in the fields nearby is coming to an end and the acacia trees are about to bloom.
The honeycombs are full in our hive and need clearing to make room for the new harvest.
Alice had brought her togs and the two of them got ready to go to work.
Meredith asked me to take photos of the scene.
Untogged so to speak, I followed them out to the edge of the garden where our single hive sits.
The worker bees were busy coming and going with their gatherings.
Meredith pumped the smoke gun to calm them and Alice lifted the first comb.
I was standing with the camera at a safe distance–I thought. (In any case, I’m not scared of bees, wasps or even hornets–ho hum!)
As I leant towards the hive, struggling to get a better angle on what was happening, I suddenly sensed one of the worker bees buzzing round my head.
“Get away! get away!” I spluttered–trying to shoo it off with my free hand while the camera-holding hand graphically recorded the moment of panic.
Unlike a fly or mosquito or any other self-respecting insect that would have taken the hint, this bee was clearly on a mission and having none of it. It continued to harass me.
Inelegantly climbing over the just-bloomed iris, I whipped off my glasses, bending down to put them and the camera on the ground, while trying to fend off the determined bee.
“On your fleece!–on your fleece!” cried Alice.
Expecting to feel a sharp pain at any moment I pulled the blue fleece over my head, catching sight of the bee clinging to the collar.
I ignominiously exited the garden on the run, pursued by a bee not a bear,
as the much quoted stage direction in Shakespeare’s A Winters Tale has it!