The sap is running! Last year we were largely robbed of the sugar season when winter ended a month early (just kidding! Catastrophic frost in June!).
I completely failed to get taps in the trees on time last year.
This year, the sugar season is right on time, precisely timing the sugar moon. I’ve got one tree tapped, the sap is flowing, and I’m even boiling it down!In the past I’ve tapped several trees and collected an awe-inspiring quantity of sap, and failed to boil any because in general I don’t even try to resist chugging it, cold, standing next to the tree (WOW!).
I made kombucha from it (wow), I boiled it to make tea, and soup, but not syrup.
Also I believed the horror stories of dripping walls and sauna reenactments from boiling sap indoors and vaporizing 39 out 40 parts water. Doing it anyways. I discovered something, maybe. I was in and out of the house today turning the stove on when I was in and off when I left (window open), and whenever I returned to the cooled pot, there was a remarkable drop in the high water mark. It seemed quite a bit was evaporating every time while it cooled, without the burner on. So perhaps that’s a tiny bit more efficient?
But this time, I have a modest amount collected, (still chugging it from the bucket but with a little restraint), and I’m hoping for a quarter cup of syrup :D. Maybe a half a cup:)
In the winter, all the nests become apparent.
Completely hidden in plain sight when the leaves are on, exposed when they come off. These well-made little nests are sewn right on to the branches, feats of micro engineering that stay whole, bowled, and upright in the storms.
The first is in an alder between the greenhouse and the beehive. Well traveled spot. They don’t seem to go to too much trouble to avoid us and our movements.
The next is on a long arm of one of the big regal apple trees right by the farmhouse. Also in the thick of activity. This may have been a robin nest as the robin was acting furtive around the apple trees quite a bit. But it seems so small. Also precarious, but looks are deceiving.
The third I found earlier in the winter when a guinea fowl was snatched in the middle of the day (ending the hens’ good-weather outdoor privileges). There was no sign of foul play, and hopeful she was only lost, I mounted a search, walking in ever wider circles, becoming upset and resigned to the truth.
Thrashing through the brush, I ran into a knee-high nest, a precious little thing built by some grass-nester. Two dead leaves that happened to fall into it curled up in it like they’re at rest.
This is why we can’t get anything done in the spring. If we’re not early enough, there are birds nesting everywhere we want to clear brush or trees.
I plan to lie in the sun in the woods until I feel like getting up. Sleep, stare, read, lie like a starfish looking up at the branches. This is the view that’s fixed me before. Though maybe it’s not the view that heals, but the act of lying with your head at the roots of a tree. I’ve spent some time doing that, every minute well spent.
Today I was holding a book over my face against a blazing sun when I noticed teensy pearls of light spiralling lazily down on me, less than half a dozen landing and evaporating instantly on my skin with a soft pinch. They were bright like diamonds, only weightless, drifting slowly down like snowflakes out of a clear bright sky with barely a hint of white cotton candy in it. It was the most amazing thing, and made no sense. I’m not even sure it wasn’t snow, although the sun was so hot. Ice crystals? How could they possibly survive to the surface? It lasted less than a minute, and was over. And I thought, what else can you miss when you’re not lying in the woods?