The bee’s knees: Saying good-bye to a wonderful neighbor

Woody, our previous dog, with one of the crabapple trees Larry helped to plant during a snowstorm in April 1989.

Since 2018, I have kept a list of my favorite destinations for locally grown food on this blog. It is much more than just a list of family-owned businesses and shops; there are names, faces, and stories attached to each of them. I know the owners by name and they know my name.

Lately sadness and grief made me procrastinate about updating the list. Kreeky Tree Farm in Slatington closed after Chris Gangi, one of the owners, died in January.

Then, yesterday, as we were about to head out the door to attend the celebration of life that his husband, Allan Schanbacher (@chefracer) held for Chris, we learned that our immediate neighbor Larry was killed in a farming accident the previous night.

Larry Faust was more than a wonderful neighbor. We bought eggs from him and honey – my  husband’s line to visitors who raved about the honey was “our flowers, Larry’s bees”—plus asparagus in the spring, and cider from his apple trees in the fall. Larry was also our go-to guy who could tell us why the wild turkey nest filled with eggs had vanished overnight from our woods (a bear took it). He was the one we would call upon to operate his backhoe to pull our stumps or his bulldozer to clear a trail in our woods when my husband’s tractor was too small for the task. It was Larry and his backhoe 34 years ago that dug 40 holes along our driveway that my husband filled with hedge maple, hornbeam, and crabapple seedlings.

Larry certainly got a kick out of watching me, the city girl, become an obsessive gardener. But he played along with all my unusual requests, whether it was for tractor buckets full of cow manure to seal off the compost pile for the winter, or for uncommon produce such as quince. Before I planted quince trees myself, I tried to get my hands on quince and since Larry knew everybody around here, I asked him whether anyone grew them. Weeks went by and nothing happened until late one evening in October when three large crates filled with quinces magically appeared on our porch. When a bird got stuck in the wood-burning stove in the springtime while I was home alone for a few days, I called Larry for help. He promptly came over and managed to rescue the bird without it losing a feather.

Two years ago in May, Larry told us that he was giving up on beekeeping because he was losing too many hives and new queens were prohibitively expensive. “If you ever spot a swarm,” he said, “let me know.” We thought, fat chance, we’ve never had that happen. Unbelievably, a few weeks later, a swarm landed on a tree right next to our house. We called Larry who appeared within minutes and, calm as ever, coaxed the swarm into a hive, then collected it the next evening after sunset. It was fascinating to watch (see the video here).

There are many more Larry stories, but I think that is my favorite. Larry’s essential and generous help with our landscaping and gardening provide the visual reminders to assuage my deep sadness.

Photos by Ted Rosen


3 thoughts on “The bee’s knees: Saying good-bye to a wonderful neighbor

  1. I love this
    Such a heartwarming tribute to Larry and the impact he had on the author’s life. It’s important to appreciate the people in our lives who go above and beyond to help and bring joy.
    Eamon O’Keeffe
    Easy Landscape Gardening

  2. Hard and sad loosing anyone we have known as neighbors and good friends.
    I enjoy seeing bees, mostly the mason ones around here probably due to the pines and the Forest.

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