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Ready, Willis and Able – Columnist confesses to mess up (July 15, 2015 issue)

Guess what? When bees swarm and form a new hive, it is the OLD queen that leads the swarm. In my June column, I said about five times that it was a NEW queen. If you are going to mess up, might as well make as big a mess as you can, right? Just kidding – maybe.
No really, even though most readers probably didn’t catch the error, I want to set the record straight because I think very highly of beekeeper Glenn Ledford whose beekeeping adventures I was writing about. For me, going with my husband Leo to Limestone Cove and visiting with Glenn and his lovely wife Alma has always been more than just about buying honey. Not that the honey isn’t some of the best you’ll ever have the good fortune to eat on a hot biscuit or straight out of the jar.
For me, visiting with Glenn and Alma is about something about as hard to find as good honey. Glenn and Alma are the type of folks who still take time to sit on their front porch and tell you stories. As far back as I can remember, I have loved listening to folks tell stories.
I was always asking my grandparents and other relatives what life was like when they were growing up. When I was a small child and lived in Willis Cove on Spivey, my parents would walk with my little sisters and me to the nearby cove where Tom and Noda McIntosh lived. Sometimes other folks would be visiting. Some of them lived “down around Erwin” as we said at the time. I would sit on the porch steps and listen to the grownups sitting in the old-fashioned rocking chairs on Noda’s porch as they told tales and talked. Lightening bugs would be flickering in the yard by the time we left, well fed with stories and Noda’s big sugar cookies.
One of the best times of my life was the year I spent gathering stories in Unicoi and Limestone Cove for the Arcadia book I did about these communities. I appreciate the opportunity this gave me to show the strength and dignity of the strong and hard working people of our part of Appalachia. I also appreciate the opportunity that the Erwin Record has given me to do this as a feature writer and a columnist.
Next time Leo and I stop by Glenn and Alma’s place, they will probably chide me for carrying on about goofing up on the queen bee story. But good-hearted folks that they are, they will still welcome Leo and me to their porch and give us one of the most precious gifts we can receive or give. That is their precious time and caring and human fellowship. When all is said and done, that may be even sweeter than any honey you can buy, whether it is from an old queen or a new one.