Friday, May 18, 2012

Don't disturb the bees

Janis: Gretchen Wieners knows everybody's business, she knows everything about everyone.
: That's why her hair is so big, it's full of secrets. 
-Mean Girls

Secrets are very powerful. They can make you drunk with power (like Gretchen) or bog you down under the burden of knowing (like when Joey was the only one who knew about Chandler and Monica on Friends). We might not want to admit but we all like to have and know secrets. It's part of being human and interacting with other humans. That's why most of us will never be spies; we just can't keep things to ourselves.

What's even better than having a secret is when you're finally let in on one. It's a magical moment where everything comes into sharp focus and the world momentarily makes sense. Since moving to Alameda, I feel like I've been left out of a lot of secrets. I've been trying to figure out how to become worthy enough to be let in on even a fraction of the secrets that keep the Island going. Well, friends, I have finally been let in on one of the secrets of the Island.

The secret is Alameda honey.

I heard rumors and chatter about Alameda honey last spring. I volunteer at a community theater and was pouring wine before the show. I was chatting with one of the patron about Tucker's Ice Cream. Tucker's Ice Cream is amazing. If you live on the Island and haven't gone yet, go right now. If you don't live here and are ever randomly in Alameda (because that will happen) make sure you stop by. Try the salted caramel; it's my favorite. Back to the honey, the theater patron casually mentioned that he had purchased honey at the ice cream shop. I asked if it was ice cream honey or some other magical topping I hadn't heard of before. He said that it was Alameda honey and it was only available a few weeks in the spring. If you saw it, you bought it. He also told me that the location of the apiary (or beeyard) is secret. You're not supposed to disturb the bees. A couple of other people at the theater confirmed the existence of apiaries (yes, we have more than one) and that the honey was hard to find and really, really amazing.

I searched for it. Tucker's was sold out by the time I got back there. A few other places that normally have it either didn't get any or were sold out. I bought some Berkeley honey at the Old Oakland Farmers Market instead. It's good but it's not Alameda honey. After awhile, I let it go. Spring faded into summer and honey season ended. (I'm guessing-does honey have a season?) No one mentioned Alameda honey again.

Until 3 weeks ago.

I was driving to work and decided to stop for coffee on the way. I've stopped going to Starbucks because I get really annoyed (how hard is it to put milk in an iced coffee that is called Iced Coffee with milk on the menu?) so I went to Wescafe instead. Wescafe is a darling little cafe on Webster Street. It's my new "on the way to work" stop on days when I don't make coffee at home (which is now about twice a week). When I walked in the only two people there were the owner and surfer/hippie guy (clearly a regular). They were talking about...Alameda honey!

I ordered my coffee and they continued to talk about the honey as I waited. The owner was telling surfer/hippie guy that she had gotten word that the honey would be in in the next few weeks. He got really excited and they both seemed to have forgotten that I was there. Then, they got quiet. The guy turned to me and said, "You're not going to tell everyone are you?" I said no and that I didn't really have anyone to tell. He actually sighed in relief. I guess he thought I was going to tell everyone and we would come back to Wescafe and buy all the honey before he could get any.  I got my coffee and left with a parting promise not to let anyone know that the secret delivery of honey would be available at Wescafe sometime in the near future on a date I didn't know.

Really? This might be what's wrong with Alameda.

I also promptly told three people this story, not because I can't keep a secret but because it was just so ridiculous that I had to tell someone. None of the people I told would take the time to come to Alameda and buy all the honey so I figured I kept my promise to surfer/hippie guy.

I stopped at Wescafe this week and there were the jars I had been waiting to see for an entire year. Right at the counter next to the cookies and bananas. Alameda Honey. There were only two left and the woman behind me was looking at me as if to say, "Don't you dare buy them both" so I only purchased this one jar. I didn't want to deprive another person of the joy of Alameda honey. Or potentially get into a fight over a jar of honey. I'm not that crazy.

One of my co-workers, Keith, is from Alameda (although he doesn't live here anymore). I posted this picture on Facebook yesterday and he first called me "gangsta" and described the honey as "liquid gold." Then he called me a hipster - so offensive. I think he's just jealous because he didn't know about Alameda honey and I do.

This weekend I'll enjoy my Alameda honey and revel in the fact that I am finally in the know about something in Alameda. One secret down and I have no idea how many more to go.

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