Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The fertile valley of the shadow of death. Or, catching a buzz at harvest time.

The security cameras captured it all: A frumpy, suspicious-looking woman, glancing around before violently rubbing her crotch against the arm of an EKTORP sofa. Another angle caught the woman sliding up and down repeatedly against a PRONOMEN countertop, like a drugged bear on a circus tent pole. She was using the spiky end of a GRUNKA spaghetti server to scratch her armpits while simultaneously rubbing her ass with a set of dishwasher-safe GNARP salad tongs. At this point, the woman's child was encouraged – with wild gesturing and what appeared to be foul language – to get his Swedish KÖTTBULAR meatballs to go, whereupon the pair ran out of the store.

That was an account of the last time I was stung by a bee and had my subsequent, first-ever allergic reaction. Thinking nothing after the little bastard bit me, my son Jack and I went about our day, proceeding to IKEA to grab a few things for our new apartment in Toronto. Mere minutes after entering the store, every gland in my body was on fire and well, let's just say, I am likely on IKEA's 10 Most Wanted list for bizarre and erratic shopping behaviour.

Never having experienced an allergic reaction to anything other than commitment, or organized religion, my biggest fear on that particular day was losing control of my bowels and having to scoop the mess into in a yet-to-be-paid-for FLÄCKIG mixing bowl with matching colander.

I survived, but I've put together my last set of BILLY bookcases.

To a randy, desperate, middle-aged bee, my thighs must look like sweet, giant honeycombs because this weekend it happened again. Violated. Shortly after I was stung, I pulled up my shorts and said to Jack, "Look at the back of my leg... how swollen it is."

Which one?

"What do you mean which one?"

Which leg?, he answered.

"The really fucking puffy, swollen, blotchy one!"

They both look puffy and swollen to me, he replied.

Kids are such assholes. My leg was inflamed and on fire, but as long as I had life insurance and we weren't in a public place, he really didn't care. Nor did I, because having gone down this road once before, I knew a stiff Benadryl cocktail on the rocks would make it all go away.

Symbols of immortality and resurrection, honey bees have been around long before the first IKEA open its doors. In fact, primeval humans gathered and ate the honey and honeycombs of wild bees (no Splenda) as far back as 7000 B.C. No wonder Napoleon emblazoned everything from his flags to his boxers with the brazen honey bee. Maybe walking around liberating France didn't make him feel manly enough, and he was hoping a sting in the right place would make him, albeit temporarily, a bigger man for his beloved Josephine – rotten teeth and all. Who knows, and who really cares.

Next week, my step mother is rolling into town for the 'golf and white wine consumption tour of the Maritimes'. Little does she know she'll spend most of her time freezing her ass off in a rink, but in between ice times, I plan on taking her to some of my favourite places.

Being harvest time and all, we'll pass on the scent-free masses at the Halifax Farmer's Market and head straight to the dealer – the Annapolis Valley – where the obligatory first stop will be refreshments at Grand Pré Vineyards. The tasting bar at Grand Pré is as close to Napa as you're going to find in this godforsaken corner of the world, and besides, it's on the way.

The way, is straight into Wolfville for a celebratory lunch at Tempest before heading up to look at the mud, er, the world's freakiest tides. I will need to stop at Cosman and Whidden's Honey Farm. This busy couple have been have been cranking out organic honey in Wolfville since 1979, and despite my recent encounters with errant bees, I want to stock up.

Oh, there is so much to do in the Valley. Hell, there's even a new pub in downtown Port Williams. The Port hail themselves as a "Gastropub", and we'll likely be thirsty after all that honey shopping. Actually, maybe an overnight at the new Beech Hill Bed & Breakfast in Port Williams is a wise idea, what with drinking and driving still being a crime and all.

I'll be sure to pack a little Benadryl, just in case an inbred (it is the Valley) worker bee spots my sweet, honeycomb thighs and moves in for a little Barry White lovin'. Maybe I'll get a sting on the lips so I can see what I'd look like with Hollywood-style collagen injections.

The pub will have straws if I have difficulty operating my new kisser. If I'm lucky, SODA bendy straws from the IKEA up in Montreal.


So much to see and do in the valley. For more information: