I want to like the outdoors. It’s pretty, especially at a distance. And many people whose opinions I respect like the outdoors (this is a theme with me: I assume that if smart people I know like something and I don’t, it must be because I’m missing something about it).
So every year or so I attempt something “outdoorsy” to see if my impressions have changed. Yesterday I went out honeysuckle-blossom picking. In my head the honeysuckle blossoms looked like they do in botany books: crisp, clean and tidy. The reality, of course, was that they were covered in pollen, had little bits of detritus stuck in them, and were host to a plethora of little tiny beetle things (ugh).
But I was going to gather blossoms, by golly, so I did, while standing, as it turns out, in a patch of poison ivy. In this one respect the Gods of Allergy have smiled upon me, for though I am allergic to all the creaures that walk or fly, and all of the pollens, and all of the dust mites, I am not allergic to the poison ivy (or the stuff that mosquitos squirt in you to make you more drinkable).
For this I am thankful. I did manage to get 4 cups of…well, mostly honeysuckle blooms, but there were a fair number of beetles and misc bits in there too. I also got covered in pollen which (thanks to the allergies) made me nearly as itchy as the poison ivy would have (but the pollen does wash off, so there is an advantage).
Then today I had one of my massive fails. The sort of really disturbing fail where you think to yourself “be careful, there’s a chance this terrible thing could happen,” and yourself says “No, no, don’t be ridiculous. That won’t happen. No worries. Be happy!”
And then the terrible fail happens and you have not only failed, but also quite ill with yourself for having had the premonition of failure and not listened to it. This does happen to other people, right?
My fail came in the form of reducing the honeysuckle nectar. I’d poured boiling water over the blossoms last night, left them to steep, then strained the lot of it this morning (bye-bye boiled beetles, the vast majority of which I’d picked out anyway). I made a simple syrup, but before adding it to the honeysuckle liquid, I needed to reduce it down some.
So I set it to boiling, and it was taking *forever* to go anywhere. I sat in front of the stove for 20 minutes with no apparent reduction in volume (you see where this is going right), before deciding to come sit on the couch and tag another couple of journal entries as part of the Great Blog Migration.
Approximately 5 picoseconds later the smell of BURNING. All is ruined. All is lost. I am sad. Sigh.
 Don’t be fooled by the way I used “out” like I was making some grand expedition into the backcountry. I went to the top of the driveway. It is, however, a steep driveway.