Phil and Terrie

Greeley Witt with Phil and Terrie Curd

Honey and the Whole Earth

A week or so ago I was gifted with a couple of real treasures. They are probably only valuable to me but that’s the way of treasures usually. At least it tends to be the way of the things I treasure.

Phil Curd brought me a jar of Sand Gap Honey from the hives he and his wife Terrie keep just a stones throw (if you have really strong arms) from where I grew up.  He also brought me and old copy of “The Last Whole Earth Catalog.” Phil and Terrie moved around the road from us in the early 70’s when he was getting ready to open up the original White House Clinic and they both became a huge influence on my young life. The gifts were a reflection of that influence and they were both chock full of more memories than can be accounted for by their appearance and size.

The pint of golden honey also contained tons of memories, from watching grandpa rob his tree section hives as a child, to being present when Phil and Daddy captured and hived a swarm, to the sweet taste of dripping honeycomb when we robbed our own hives a few years later.  Honey has been part of the human diet for millennia and part of my diet for as long as I can remember. As a child I used to wonder where all the bees had been to gather the nectar. I would imagine their flights to all the fields of blooming flowers and grasses and trees and eating the honey was like tasting all the blooms of the hillsides. It felt like I was taking in sunshine and summer. We tend to forget those flights of imagination as we grow older but I found them again in that pint of golden honey gifted to me by people I will always consider family.  When I sweetened by tea with it yesterday I overflew the fields and hillsides of my youth again and found the memory as sweet as the honey itself.

The Last Whole Earth Catalog was a publication that will not be familiar to most. It was the last edition of the Whole Earth Catalog, which was an eclectic mix of stories, how-to guides for about anything you can imagine that would be useful for self-reliance, and philosophy.  One of the great things about living close to Phil and Terrie was that I got to read all the magazines and publication they received when they were done with them These included the aforementioned catalog, National Geographic, and Mother Jones, to name a few.  The Whole Earth Catalog was my favorite. It had within its pages so many things I’d never seen before and so many thought’s I had yet to think. I could lose myself for a whole day in its pages when allowed to do so. I had not seen a copy for years until Phil gifted me the last issue but as I turned the pages I saw seeds of many of the things that have since sprouted in my mind. 

There is no doubt that children are greatly shaped and influenced by the things they are exposed to in those early years when natural curiosity has them trying to figure out what the world is all about and how they fit into it.  In my case, I consider myself very fortunate. We were very poor growing up but my hungry mind was always fed with good things to think, wonder, imagine and consider.  This budding little philosopher found a treasure trove of interesting things it the books and magazines shared with me by our neighbors and in the neighbors themselves.  So, other than the honey and the catalog, the gift from Phil and Terrie was a gift of all the memories that came from them and all the things they shared with me that were not food nor written word but were perspective and experience. You could never fit all of it in a pint jar or in a few hundred pages of text. They shared their lives with my family and me. They lived what they believed as community. They gave truth to their own philosophy by welcoming us into their life and joining us in ours without judgment.

Those two people were a gift to me and I thank them both for that gift and for the simple gifts of honey and the Whole Earth that led me back to remembering how much more full my days were for knowing them.

John Paul Sartre once said that Hell is other people.  He forgot to mention that….so is heaven. 

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