Sunday, March 23, 2014

Playing taps for Winter

I'd be inclined to attribute my frustration with Spring's tardy arrival to my normally impatient outlook on everything, except the temperature this month is about seven degrees below average. Not one or two degrees, but seven, that's a bunch of below average highs and lows. It looks like the local woods are still holding about 8" +/- of snow. Walking the dogs, when the wind picks up, is often downright unpleasant. The Old Farmer's Almanac calls for April and May to have above normal temperatures around here, although their chart for May shows below normal temps, so who really knows. If we could get a few days warm enough to melt our snow cover, then the ground could start warming and we might be in better shape than we've managed so far. But, just as we can't see the river flowing beneath the ice, nor the sap rising beneath the bark, we should ask what else is there that we are not seeing?

ice and snow covered St. Croix river
snow-covered bluffs, ice covered river    © harrington

As the weather warms, and the deciduous trees on our property grow this year's leaves, I'm planning on marking the maple trees to see if it might be worthwhile to make some of our own maple syrup next year. I'll need to check on which kind of maple tree I'm looking at and make sure the diameter is at least 10" about 4 1/2 feet up. Because this will be a "romantic" effort more than a production activity, I'm going to want to see if I can find the old fashioned metal buckets  with tented covers and spiles (taps), instead of the plastic you see in the photo below. While I still lived in New England, I remember seeing some sugar bushes using the plastic tubing, but I liked the sharper sound of sap dripping into metal rather than plastic. So, regardless of how this Spring turns out, I've got something to look forward to in late Spring this year and, with luck, early Spring 2015. Sarah Littlecrow-Russell's Song from a Reedless Flute captures feelings similar to those I have these days for the times I spent in Vermont.

local sugarbush being tapped
local sugarbush being tapped           © harrington

Song from a Reedless Flute

By Sara Littlecrow-Russell 
You are beadwork woven by a broken Indian woman
That I mend with cautious, needle-pricked fingers.
You are raw sweetness of burning chaga
Scraping my lungs and startling tears.
You are the bear claw necklace
No longer caressing
The space between my breasts.
You are cigarettes
That I quit years ago,
But sometimes smoke anyways.

You are maple syrup on snow
Melting on my tongue
Until I ache from the cold.
You are the cedar tree
Sheltering my childhood
From unwanted caresses.
You are the star blanket
Sliding off the bed on autumnal nights.
You are a stubborn braid of wiingashk
That must be relit with a dozen matches
Before it releases thin streamers of sweetness.

You are the love song
Played on a reedless flute
That only spirits hear.

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