End of Sugar Bush marks begining of Corvette season

News From Indian Country 5-09

This is always one my favorite times of the year. It is when we go to the sugar bush to make maple syrup. For almost twenty years I have been writing about going to the sugar bush and I worry sometimes that I will repeat myself.

The basics are the same, the snow, the sun, and the quiet of the woods. Also the trees, the kettle, the firewood, the drill, the taps. I guess the only real difference is who will visit. There were two cords of seasoned firewood waiting, two kettles and 192 new milk jugs from a Duluth dairy. We were ready.

I had a good, well-trained crew. It was my sons, Jim, Matthew, Joe, Aaron Ezigaa, and Calvin. Also my nephew Kris and daughter-in-law Jackie. My part was easy, all I did was sit and point at what I wanted done next. At the end of the day my lips were just tired.

This year I once again told them about being careful not to spill any sap because it comes out of the trees one drop at a time.

We went to the woods and began to drill the trees and insert a tap into the holes. I parked my lawn chair in the middle of the logging road and simply pointed out what I wanted done. Two bald eagles flew over us as we moved through the woods. We know the eagles will tell the Creator we are once again using the gift of maple sap. It took just one day to drill the 192 holes, tap a tap in, and hang a milk jug.

We had a good run of sap for a couple of days then the sap froze up, for seven days the temperature didn’t rise above 30 degrees. We did boil down our first run of sap. Once again I was telling my crew what to do; I had taken to calling them my minions. My son Aaron asked if I could move my chair and supervise from over there out of the way. I complied.

Bill Howes, a Fonjalacker, brought some students from St. Scholastica to see what we were doing and how we were doing it. I think the students learned the way we do things around this fire.

Two friends from Michigan won the award for traveling the farthest to visit our sugar bush. Janis Fairbanks and her husband, and Mike Zimmerman, came from southern Michigan to see the magic of our sugar bush. Al “Everywhere” Hunter, Sandra Indian, and two grandsons won the International Award for traveling here from Canada to see our sugar bush. Anishaa, I was just jiving about the awards, we don’t give out awards, only knowledge.

We had a Flambonian, Lenelle Hrabik, from Lac du Flambeau who came to help us work.

Finally Jana Hollingsworth and Clint Austin came from the Duluth News Tribune to write a story and take pictures of our method of making syrup from maple sap.

My minions worked well together, they laughed and joked the whole way through. Once when Kris was splitting wood, Matthew told him if you’re going to hit that wood like a girl, hit it like a big girl, at least.

Once it was sweet enough outside we brought it inside where my wife further boiled it, filtered it, and canned it for storage.

In the end, we got enough for a Shinnob, not enough for a Chimmook.


Question of the Month

Q…….What if the Pope came to the sugar bush?

A……. Holy See, we’d have Papal Maple Syrupal.


The end of the sugar bush season also means the beginning of the Corvette season. I wake that beautiful car from hibernation when the State quits salting the roads. The body of the Sting Ray is Fiberglass but the guts underneath are all steel so it would rust after a couple of Minnesota winters.

I charged the battery, sneezed into the tires, added fresh gas and that big V-8 rumbled to life when I turned the key.

Immediately I took that car my wife won at the casino on the county road south of Sawyer that has a series of five 90 degree turns. When we went around the corners I leaned but that car stayed rock steady all the way through each turn.

Already I am wondering where that car and I will motor to this year. I am also wondering what I will have to repair or replace on the 45-year-old car. My wife is afraid to drive that car because it is too fast, too low, and too powerful so I have to drive it.


Ojibberish Question of the Month

Q…..What do you say when visitors leave your house?



The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone. Comments, questions and pancake mix can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box 16, Sawyer, MN 55780-0016

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On The Net: www.nativewiki.org/Jim_Northrup