It has been a long time since I had seen or tasted honey. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning, I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar.

My grandfather and father had many hives of honey bees. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year, and leave the bees plenty for the winter. It was a good partnership.

There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. I did not waste it on the bland mush. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and tasted the honey as if for the first time.  Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels, I thought. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind; memories of days when life was simpler, when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina.

But man cannot live on honey alone, so I carefully squeezed half of the honey in that small package onto my one slice of bread—careful not to spill a single drop. The other half I saved for later, knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread, but it seemed to last an eternity. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends.  

When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. For a moment there I had been free. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. I had smelled the spruce, the mountain laurel, and the wildflowers. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices.  I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly, and also, I thanked God for a taste of honey.