Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Sugar Bush is Running

We are done for now with getting more wood for the evaporator, which will boil down the sap into syrup. I did some of the cutting and splitting, but mostly I stacked it. I now feel confident that I can split wood, as long as it's of a certain size. Here I am next to the wood pile covered in a tarp:

Starting Monday of last week, we started tapping the maple trees in the sugar bush for Native Harvest. By Wednesday, we had 798 taps put in. The original plan was for around 500.

On Monday, we split into two teams of three people, each team consisting of a driller, someone with a bucket of taps and a small hammer, and a can person. I was the tapper. And for each tree I came to, it occurred to me to thank the tree for letting us use its sap again this year. Put the tap in, placed my hand on the bark and thought: "We humbly receive only that which you will give us." On Thursday, when we collected the sap, I tried to thank each tree again. And I realized, as I saw the twigs, moths, spiders and other random things that had fallen in the cans, that consuming maple syrup is very much like drinking the forest.

This weekend was really fun. Shigeki, who I've started dating, came up and visited for the weekend. I met him at one of the rec centers that I was teaching skating at in February. He's a really great guy. We went to Bemidji with a couple of kids from White Earth who are related to someone from the project, and we stopped at Itasca State Park to see the headwaters of the Mississippi. Of course we all had to cross it in bare feet, despite the available bridge.

Yes, that is me with bare feet in icy water. I have miraculously survived!

And now for some gratuitous cuteness. Take it away, Victor the cat!

He is probably the friendliest cat I've ever met, or neediest. He kills voles and yesterday a squirrel and offers them at our feet. Wish he wouldn't do that, unless he was going to eat them too, but he's an outdoor cat, and I'm thankful not to have to change kitty litter.

Next week is the last week I'll be up here. It's been good and I've learned a ton, but it'll be good to be back next Saturday. See you soon, Bro and Tousan!


  1. Good description of your week. I'm not sure that I'll be eating any maple syrup after your description of the "extra" ingredients. I saw some maples being tapped in Fort Snelling State park last week, and they seemed to have sealed pails to catch the sap. That's a native American enterprise, too.

    I look forward to your return. Unky Herb is planning a jaunt to Chicago for the weekend. -Tousan

  2. I like the prayers. It gave me a feeling of peace reading them. I am glad to see that you are having a good time. See you soon.

  3. Aww, kitty! Cuteness.

    Sounds like you're having a good time up there. We'll have to get together when you get back.