LOTT FARM & APIARY
That man over there, the quiet one who works with bees and vegetables and mushrooms and songs, his name is Paul Lott. He’s smiling because the world is almost round or that today isn’t effortless or about a hive taking to a queen or because he enjoys his doing. Out on his farm, that man over there said, “The work is my pay. I go to sleep at night knowing I love what I did and gave it my all.”
Some farms are big for a fact while others show their size in the variety of things grown and tasks undertaken and interests explored. Lott Farm & Apiary in Waynesville, North Carolina, does vegetables and fruits and honey and gourds and woodcrafts and mushrooms and herbs. The weather is two weeks ahead of normal, warmer than normal, and here among the buckwheat and berseem clover Paul Lott stands looking at his apple trees and beehives. “Each has a role to fulfill, why I love them.” Paul is talking about bees. He speaks casually from his knowing about queens, colonies, gestation periods, drones, sugar-candy water, larvae, nectar flows, cycles and time. There is a craft to keeping each hive healthy, a long learning and honing and patience, the humility to be awed by things.
With ties to Jacksonville, Florida, and Louisville, Kentucky, the Lotts moved to Haywood County in 1996. Paul arrived two years later to take care of his convalescing parents, Oscar and Gail, both of whom recently passed. There are sunflowers throughout the farm. Oscar Lott planted sunflowers at the end of each row because he believed one had to plant something for the soul. Paul does the same. Rows of vegetables end in booming sunflowers as tall as men with faces aloud. Some minutes from now, Paul will say, “It’s the difference between a sure thing you kinda do versus the unsure thing you love to do.”
The dog follows us beyond a gate where chickens range under pockets of jewelweed in flower. Paul shows us the leaves and the stems and the roots. Jewelweed is a botanical remedy for poison ivy and poison oak. Nearby are neat stacks of logs and a deeper air smelling of damp and dirt. Paul became interested in mushrooms when looking for herbal remedies that would alleviate his father’s pain. He speaks casually from his knowing about lion’s mane, moistures, inoculations, shocking the logs, mycellum, rotation, tradeoffs, cycles and time. They reveal themselves, these arcs of curiosity that begin and bend and delve through knowing and not knowing.
There is a studio on the farm where Oscar Lott painted and sketched and carved. The walls are full of paintings spanning impressionism, German expressionism, abstract, and idyllic landscapes. On the easel sits an unfinished portrait of the young woman in Renoir’s “Dance at Bougival.” Oscar Lott could paint. Paul describes his father the way a proud son would of a man who lived to be 87 years old when the doctors said he would die in his boyhood from a medical condition. Oscar made it through World War II and the shipyards of Jacksonville. Here is a painting of a winter scene with stark tree limbs under a brittle sky. Paul loves the way his father used purple in the sky and blues in the snow. Later when he sits us down in his home, Paul Lott picks up a guitar and plays and sings. “Once I lived the life of a millionaire, spent all my money, I just did not care. Took all my friends out for a good time, bought bootleg whiskey, champagne and wine…” A good song. Paul plays the guitar warm and pure, doesn’t beat the strings or cane the chords. He sings low and true, this man.