George Washington portrait by Gilbert Stuart. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Right now is the Fourth of July, and what higher time to proclaim: “Hurray for the crimson, white and blue!”
And the yellow.
On a tenting journey final week to Doran Regional Park, Bodega Bay, we admired our neighbors’ show of American flags—bordered with a dozen honey bees.
These bees, nevertheless, did not buzz. They spun.
The colourful yellow, black and white mobiles attacked the wind like fierce little windmills, livening up the campground.
“Are you beekeepers?” I requested the neighbor.
“No,” she replied. “We similar to bees.”
So did George Washington (1732-1799), the founding father of our nation.
Mount Vernon analysis historian Mary Thompson notes that George Washington was the primary U.S. president to maintain bees. In Washingtonpapers.org, she writes that his “indentured English joiner,” Matthew Baldridge, obtained 300 nails on the Circle Storehouse on July 28, 1787 “to make a bee home.”
“Two days later, Matthew obtained one other 200 nails for a similar challenge,” Thompson notes. “Along with getting honey from his personal bees, George Washington is thought to have bought honey, in addition to different foodstuffs akin to chickens, eggs, greens, and fruit from his slaves. Honey, for instance, was acquired at numerous instances from Nat (a blacksmith); Davy, who was an enslaved overseer;and carpenters Sambo an Isaac, indicating that they, too, in all probability stored bees.”
This honey bee was not searching for nectar or pollen, however the wind. (Picture by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Thompson says that “Bees would have been prized for making the honey, which was certainly one of George Washington’s favourite meals. Each members of the family and guests made observe of the truth that Washington normally ate hoecakes, a ‘usually American’ dish thought by some historians to be a mirrored image of slave affect on Anglo-American delicacies, and honey for breakfast. Houseguest Winthrop Sargent discovered breakfast with the Washingtons to be a ‘very substantial Repast,’ however famous that ‘Indian hoe cake with Butter & Honey appeared the principal Element Components.”
Brittanica.com defines hoecakes as “a combination of cornmeal, water, and salt, so named as a result of they have been initially baked on the flat of a hoe over a wooden hearth.”
Thompson says President Washington additionally favored cake unfold with honey and butter: “A customer from Poland reported that Washington had “tea and caks (sic) produced from maize; due to his tooth he makes slices unfold with butter and honey….”
And, in keeping with step-granddaughter Nelly Custis, Washington “ate three small mush truffles (Indian meal) swimming in butter and honey,” and “drank three cups of tea with out cream.”
The founding father additionally favored items of honey. Understanding his fondness for honey, sister Betty Washington Lewis gifted him with a “massive Pot of very effective within the Comb,” when the president was recovering from a severe sickness.
The Mount Vernon analysis historian additionally relates: “On the shut of Washington’s presidency eight years later, among the many many issues the household packed to ship again to Mount Vernon from Philadelphia was ‘one demijohn with honey.’ A demijohn was a really massive glass bottle, coated with wickerwork.”
Honey for the hoecakes, hoecakes swimming in honey…