Wrap Up

“Sugar season 2017 is officially over,” declared Chief of Operations on Sunday.

A Look Back: As always happens, we learned that our season was similar to that of sugarers on the other side of Mt. Mansfield and in the rest of our county, Lamoille County. Some made syrup in January (not, and probably never, us). Everyone made a lot of syrup in February, relatively little in March, and we all ended the season with a whopper of a run ca. April 8-11. Was it a good year? Yes, we nod, but not as good as last year. What about grade? Well, for us it was the Year of Light Amber Rich; I can’t speak for others.

Did we break any of our records? Yes, in two categories.

2017 beat out 2016 by one day in the category “Longest Season” which we measure as the first through the last day of boiling. The dates? February 20 – April 11 for a total of 51 days.

2017 also beat out 2016 by five days in the category “Earliest Start.” This year, February 20; last year, February 25.

For me it takes some of the fizz out of the experience to compare Nebraska Knoll’s season with that of other sugarmakers. When someone asks “How was your season?”, all the uncertainty, the waiting, the worry, the adrenaline rushes, the pots of coffee, the giggling fits, the syrup spills, the filter press woes, the bass beat emanating rom the boom box, the stoking gloves wrapped in duct tape, the sagging faces of the stokers, the filthy ash-cleaning wool hat hanging on its peg, the aroma of ham and scalloped potatoes, the play within this play called Waiting for Lorenzo, the steam, the clank of the stovebox door being jerked open, and the sticky rooster-shaped timer set at 8 minutes between stokes – all as ephemeral as the spring beauties – reside within my response “It was good.”

It was very good.

Now, dear readers, the long-like-this-season phase of the blog ends, but the blog door stays ajar. Thanks for clicking or tapping this way, and as I have said other years, “For goodness sake turn off those marvelous digital devices and get outside.”

Blog Staff:
Photography: Chief of Operations
Food correspondent: Maple Trout Lilli
Artist in residence: Ana Lucia Fernandez
Contributing photographers: Tom and Laurie Silva and the crew
Contributing writers: Sarah Bailey, Joe Renish, Chief of Operations
Supporting Cast: The Crew
Senior Editor: AC

Monday Buds

 

To celebrate the conclusion of the 2017 Sugaring Project at Nebraska Knoll, the blog will feature the equivalent of a Fireworks Finale.

First let’s start with the trees without which there would be no sugaring project.

Here is the most recent painting of sugar maple buds by Ana Lucia.

 

Flowers emerge from the tips. Watercolor by Ana Lucia Fernandez.

A retrospective:

Watercolor by Ana Lucia Fernandez

Sugar maple buds.
Drawing by Ana Lucia Fernandez

 

Thank you, Ana Lucia.

 

Sunday Buds and Maple as Leader

Here is a new painting by crew member Ana Lucia that shows how buds look when they have just popped, in this case shortly after the final boiling day.

Popped sugar maple buds, ca. 4/15/17. Painting by Ana Lucia Fernandez

Compare the popped buds with the tight buds of March.

Sugar maple buds. Drawing by Ana Lucia Fernandez

Sugar maple buds.
Drawing by Ana Lucia Fernandez

It seems right to print once again the story of how First Nation citizens revere the maple as leader of the trees.

The Maple Tree

The following is a small piece of the Iroquois Creation Story, as told to Audrey in Nova Scotia by a woman who is a member of the Mohawk Nation, August 2004.

Sky Woman (Grandmother Moon) came to this world pregnant. She gave birth to Original Woman (Mother Earth). Original Woman ended up sacrificing herself in childbirth so that life on earth could begin.

After her death, Original Woman was placed in the ground:

  1. From her head grew tobacco that it might be burned and be the visible representation of our thoughts and prayers to the Spirit World (helpers) and the Great Mystery.

  2. From her heart grew the heart berry (strawberry) that we would have blood, family connections, seeds and a connection to the earth (natural world).
  3. From her body grew the Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash), the main sustenance of the Iroquois.
  4. From her lower body grew the Maple Tree. The Maple Tree provides us with sweet cleansing water.

The Maple Tree is the leader of all trees. It leads by example and shows the trees how to work with Mother Earth and the seasons – when the sap will flow, when to bud, when to unfurl, when to seed, when to color, when to fall and when to begin again. The only element that all life needs is water. The Maple stands to teach us to respect and care for our water, as it is a sacred gift. The Iroquois believe that each stand of maples has a head female and a head male tree. These two are often the oldest amongst the stand of trees.

To this day, the Iroquois recognizes and honors the Maple as a leader and holds a ceremony at tapping/syrup time to remember how important the Maple is to our life, how it came as a gift to the People from Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, Sky World, and the Great Mystery.