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Maple Syrup: Making Sweet Connections

The Good Stuff

It’s that time of year again.  The breeze is moist, the cardinals singing, and the snow is like mash potatoes.  I love the seasonal ritual.  It’s a real rut-breaker.  It’s not based on the clock or date on my calender.  To catch the Maple Sap running up the tree, one has to pay attention.  That’s how you know it’s a keeper.  Like lots of nature connection routines that bring health and happiness, Maple Sugarin’ requires being awake, using my senses and a kind of longing.

It’s magic really.  Imagine drilling a tree with a 5/8″ drill and clear sap, like water, runs out the hole.  Of course the instinct is to lap it up.  I know, I do it every year.  Don’t spill a drop we say.  I’ve watched my daughter lick the drips off the bark of a Sugar Maple since she could walk.  Why ?  It’s ever so barely perceptively sweet.  And that’s enough to keep you coming back for more.

Of course it’s not like it use to be.  Back in the day the trees used to drip syrup.  The color was dark, the flavor rich, the body thick and the flavor very sweet.   It was so common that folks got used to it, and occasionally at first and then without exception, let it run all over the ground.  You know, cause it’s always there.  Like clean water, fresh air, abundant oceans, it’s pretty much a given.

Until one day, you won’t believe this, the Creator gets into a chat with Old Man Coyote about the situation.

Big C: “It’s just not sustainable”

Little C: “I hear you”

Big C: “I’ve sent several signals, they don’t seem to get it”

Little C: “yeah.”

Little C: “tell ya what, I think I got it”

Big C: “what ?”

Little C: “Leave it to me.”

It takes 4 of these to make that lil' thing !

So Old Man Coyote grabs a bucket, pretty good sized one, dips it into the largest body of fresh water he can find and wouldn’t you know it pours it into every single tree !  He had a good old time with this mischief and saw how the people woke up to this dramatic change.  They were sad.  He was almost done when he decided to leave them a little something, he left one tree with a hint of sweetness in it.  Jussssst a hint, mind you.

And you know what ? To this day it takes 40 gallons of Sap to make one gallon of syrup.  That’s a fact.

That’s quite a bit of boilin, to get all that H2O out of there.  I know, I’m doing it 7 nights a week for weeks on end during the height of the season.  I don’t mind though.  Slows me down.  Pushes back the clock, the treadmill, the taking for granteds that build up.

I like to use that fire tending time to sit in silence, listen to the clacking of branches in the wind and the howl of coyotes in the air.  I also like to visit with friends.  While tending the fire, I’m tending my relationships.  It’s like a renewal of what’s important to me, a seasonal ritual of gratitude.

Every year I look forward to connecting with nature, myself and my relationships by tapping into the sweetness that flows through all things.  Well,  Sugar Maples, that is.

If you liked this post, or like Maple Sugaring, leave a comment below, thanks!

15 replies
  1. Rhonda
    Rhonda says:

    What a great time of year Mark. I use to be part of the maple syrup interpretation at a local conservation. A great time with friends and new people you meet through the tour. I love maple syrup and tending the fire and the smell of the sweet sap and wood burning. My favourite part of the tour for me was making maple candy for everyone. A time of change, of community building and eating pancakes with butter and maple syrup. Enjoy this time.

    Reply
  2. miki dedijer
    miki dedijer says:

    that looks so tasty mark, and the story makes it sweeter too. i wonder what coyote did to the birches; we have to boil it even longer than sugar maple. here in sweden we have a spring healing day in a few months when we enjoy fresh birch sap and nettle soup at the farm. love your blogs!
    miki

    Reply
  3. Rachel Larabee
    Rachel Larabee says:

    Hi Mark,

    I’ve been reading your blogs and following your posted videos for some time now. I apologize for not commenting, kind of selfish I suppose–just taking in the richness of how you’re living, living (and dreaming) vicariously through you (i’m a torontonian for now) and not giving feedback–how modern and city like of me.

    I actually caught a lecture of yours one day at OISE, that’s how I got connected to this beautiful movement you’re co-creating. As I mentioned, these messages, blogs and videos you post are dream full for me and some of my friends as are now creating our young families and as we co-imagine living in community in a natural space and in deep connection to the life that surrounds and dwells within. We’d love to come out for a visit at some point.

    I learn a lot from you posts as well. Being born and raised in the city, I’ve collected bits and pieces of knowledge of outdoor living through my own outdoor adventures here and there but for example, I didn’t know that maple syrup used to be thick and pure and now is watered down. Very interesting.

    It’s amazing the treats Creator blesses us with on the Earth, like maple sugar, avocados, summer peaches and cherries, a beautiful ripe pear…this list is endless. I eat these beauties full of thanks and praise for such kindness! I spend a lot of time on the Island of Hispaniola, in the Dominican Republic, feel a deep, almost past-life connection to that land…but anyway, there’s a fruit there called Nispero (probably spelled it wrong) but it looks like a kiwi but is brown inside—tastes like a mix of maple sugar, cinnamon and caramel–in a fruit! pure heaven, Thank you Creator! And thank you Mark, for sharing and inspiring us all with this beautiful life you have been working so hard to co-create and preserve. Namaste.

    Rachel

    Reply
    • markmorey
      markmorey says:

      Thanks for the deep reflection Rachel, it motivates me to keep sharing knowing it
      makes a difference for you. There are a couple of great times of year to come
      and visit me, when a lot of nature connection, community and cultural mentoring
      are taking place. let me know if you are interested we can take it from there.

      Mark

      ps: I LOVE the island fruit too. I absolutely fell in love with coconuts last year.
      And passion fruits. I have deep gratitude for these gifts.

      Reply
  4. David
    David says:

    Love it, Mark. The first harvest of the year. Last year, we set up our home made evaporator right on the stone driveway. Sitting together from dawn till dusk, stoking the fire, welcoming neighbors and friends as we reacquaint ourselves with each other after our long winter hibernation – tending to relationships (I love that!)! The process invites us, impels us to slow down one more time….with seed sewing right around the bend. Peas will be up early this year, I bet.

    Reply
    • markmorey
      markmorey says:

      Beautiful comment David ! I love how my love of the season and the slow ritual, pulls me into
      health and happiness for myself and my relations. Did you notice that other people were
      happy that you set up your evaporator in the driveway, causing them to slow down and connect too ?

      Reply
  5. Amy Beam
    Amy Beam says:

    Great tale! It stirred a lot of sentiments…and fond memories of baby girl Lucia singing, “…please, please, please…drip!” I long to return to a time when the culture-at-large lives with, and not against, the turning seasons. Thanks, Mark. Please, please, please keep these stories coming!

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth Marshall
    Elizabeth Marshall says:

    Think I’ll go to the fridge and open the tiny tiny bottle of pure maple syrup
    I bought last summer and pour the last bit on my tongue, relishing it as my
    treat of the day, and then soon I’ll go out back in the woods and look for a maple
    to tap. Synchronicity reading this post today – just yesterday was at a healing weekend
    w/ tracker folks in Jersey & had a conversation w/a farmer who taps maple syrup,
    and he told me exactly how to do it. Mmmmm – could’nt wait the sweet essence is
    filling up my spirit right now!

    Peace,

    Elizabeth in Maryland

    Reply
  7. Craig
    Craig says:

    Sweet Story! I like it a lot. I know another maple syrup story, kind of the same but the people were just lying around under those “tapped” trees getting big bellies and being lazy. “Big C” wasn’t too happy because didn’t create the whole world just for the people to lay under a tree. So after the Nanabush brought the change and everything was diluted (and only ran once a year instead of 4 seasons) then the people had to go out and gather fire wood, make containers for boiling, and containers for storing through the year and so on. That way they got to go out and appreciate the wonderful creation more.

    Thanks for sharing Mark! Craig

    Reply

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