Here’s a scene from my WIP, Fat and Sassy. Bea and Casey arrived back in Arkansas with a carload of kids in the spring of 1942. Staying with Beas father, Papa, and her younger brother Sam, keeps Bea busy. Besides the household chores, Papa still likes to find ways she can help.
The Honey Tree
“Why me? I’ve got my hands full. Take Sam with you.”
“You know those brothers of yourn’ aren’t any good with the bees. You’re the one I always took with me because you have a way with them.”
“I was going to wash today.”
“Wash tomorrow. Those overalls ain’t gonna go anywhere. We’re outta honey and it’s a good day to harvest honey. Sunny and dry.”
Bea resigned herself to the change in her plans. She threw the flour sack dishtowel on the table. “Do you know where the honey tree is? I can’t be traipsing all over the holler in my condition.”
“Honey, honey …” Mae sang out. “Can we go too?”
“Naw, you can’t go. You’re too little to go hunt honey. You chillin’s stay here with Uncle Sam.” She poured some milk in a bottle and handed it to Mae. “Here, go give this to your brother.”
As Mae headed out of the kitchen, Bea hollered out, “Sam. Git yourself in here.”
Sam poked his head in the doorway. “What sis?”
“I’m huntin’ honey with Papa today. Keep an eye on the kids while we’re gone.”
“I’d rather do that than mess with those ole’ bees. They’s nasty creatures … Bea.” He laughed at his joke. Bea glared at him, no laughter in her face. She’d heard that joke too many times growing up and wasn’t in the mood to hear it again.”
“I’m a fixin to git the oil and the rags,” Papa said, standing and heading towards the door.
Sam started singing, “Honey, sweet, sweet honey … gonna have you on my biscuits tonight.” Bea threw the dishtowel at his head and followed Papa out the door.
The chickens got excited and started their clucky serenade as Bea and Papa passed by on the way to the barn. “So how far is the honey tree? I caint be climbing too much with this belly.”
“Just down the road a piece. It’s in that grove that’s midway to the crossroads. I spied ‘em flying back and forth yesterday and followed ‘em. The hollow is only a few feet off the ground, not too high.”
They ambled along the dusty lane towards the grove. “Should be a nice amount in there right now. Earlier in the year when you got here there prolly wasn’t too much there after getting’ thru the winter. The honeycomb should be filled back up by now.”
Approaching the bank of trees, Papa motioned to stop. He pulled out a match and lit the oil soaked rag. Holding the smoking beacon in front of him, they entered the grove, stepping over limbs and leaf litter towards their goal. Bees buzzed back and forth on their mission. The duo eased up to the hollow, ignoring the bees swarming around the mouth of the hollow in the old oak. Bea stepped quietly behind him, holding a pail ready for the golden harvest. The smoldering torch filled with air with its pungent smoke. The buzzing slowed and quieted. Bea slipped up to the hollow, stuck her hand in and pulled out a sweet, sticky honeycomb mass. She dropped in the pail and went back for another. A few curious bees swarmed her head. She held still as they investigated then headed back to their home unconcerned.
“Got enough?” she asked.
“That should hold us for a bit.” They backtracked toward the road where Papa stepped on the rag extinguishing the fire.
Bea held her gummy hand out in front of her. It had been so long since she’d been honey hunting she’d forgotten to bring a wet rag with her. “Guess I guess the first taste,” she said, starting to lick her hand.