I bought myself a present at Trader Joe’s on the day before Christmas Eve: a rainbow of honey. Six kinds, ranging from light to dark, from different parts of the world and from different bees that collected their pollen from different plants. At the time, I thought I was being ridiculous — seriously, a person who lives in a van does not need six different types of honey. And the tops on the bottles were corks, which meant chances of spilling and sticky mess were probably pretty high.

But I couldn’t resist. I’ve never thought much about honey before the last year. Yellow stuff, from bees. I would buy your typical generic honey-bear plastic container and it would last me months or even years, because I would only ever use it for occasional tea, usually when I was sick.

But then I started using it when I made granola and then, instead of buying pre-sweetened yogurt, I started using plain Greek yogurt and adding my own sweetener. Way better idea! Not only do you get to control the level of sweet, each bite can taste slightly different depending on how much honey it gets. It turns same-old, same-old yogurt into something new with every bite.

And then — the real key — my friend P, in Seattle, gave me some of her home-gathered honey. (Total struggle with the words there, ha. She raised bees, but obviously she didn’t grow the honey or make the honey, so not home-grown or home-made. Home collected?) It was the best honey I’d ever tasted. It was a qualitatively different thing than honey I’d had before. It was almost spicy and rich, heavy and dense. Delicious. Really, seriously, incredibly delicious.

I didn’t use it as the sweetener for my home-made granola because I didn’t want to waste it, but even only using it on my morning yogurt, I used up the jar she’d given me in August by the end of November. I replaced it with some farmer’s market raw honey infused with cinnamon that was… okay. Nice enough. Not something that would inspire me to fall in love with honey, but fine.

Today I tried my first new honey from the rainbow: the clover honey from the USA. It was light and sweet and lovely. I ate my yogurt and then before I was done, when I only had a bite of yogurt left, I added another little bit of honey, just because it was so yummy. Not like Pam’s honey but way better than typical honey.

So I’m really pleased with my present to myself, despite how silly it seemed. Yep, I live in a van with incredibly limited space, but room for seven different types of honey. But there’s something so wonderful about discovering that a thing I never really thought about, just took for granted, has such variety and possibility within it. It reminds me of when the sweet olive tree outside my bedroom window flowered and became incredibly fragrant. For a moment in time, my familiar backyard became a different world — exotic and tropical, almost magical.

Hmm, and now I’m reminded of a Robin McKinley book in which the heroine is a beekeeper, Chalice. Her different types of honey have different magical attributes. I just never realized that the honey was real, even if the magic was maybe not.