Many Up North communities plan some kind of snowy festival to take the edge off the bitter cold of February. This year’s wildly unpredictable winter dealt us a wicked hand to play. But we live here. We persevere. Scratch the sleigh rides. Bring out the carriages. Go ahead with the snow sculpture contest, but judge it really quickly. If the cross-country skiing looks iffy, strap on snowshoes instead. Emphasize the excellent treats. No crowd goes home surly if it’s had something good to eat. Light candles and bonfires. Sing. Congratulate ourselves that at least we’ve saved a lot of money on propane and firewood. Commiserate with the neighbors who deliver propane and firewood. They’ve saved a lot of money on fuel for the truck.
This whole week has been a fine example. Snow one day, thaw the next. Drifts against the mailbox in the morning, bare road by evening. On Tuesday we had some snow, and then a little wind. It must have been a mild night, because yesterday morning we went to get the newspaper and found one of my favorite things.
I love it when snow is just the right consistency to hold its shape as it slumps away from wherever it accumulated. This particular Accidental Sculpture strikes me as a bow to spring. I suspect it’s a sly little bow, as I’m sure that more winter will arrive in due course.
If people are confused, imagine the plight of the trees. Cherries are mulling over whether it’s safe to bud (it’s not—trust me on this cherry trees, it’s not safe yet) and maple sap is feeling the urge to rise. Bring on the maple syrup. If you are from Around Here, or even if you want to come Up Here for the first weekend in March to experience it all, you can get out in a real sugarbush with people who know what they’re doing and learn how to tap trees. Maria Wesserle writes from Wagbo:
We’re having a Maple Tree Tapping on Saturday, March 3rd, starting with a potluck lunch at noon. Bring a dish if you can, but it’s not required. Wagbo provides drinks and table service. The program begins at 1 pm with an excursion to the Wagbo Sugarbush to tap maples with the Friends of the Wagbo Sugarbush (FWSB). Our sugarbush is a half-mile hike from the farmhouse, so come prepared for the trip and for the weather. No experience necessary. Bring a cordless drill and 5/16″ bit if you have one. And the time you spend working for FWSB earns you sweet syrup in exchange. For more info, call 231-536-0333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (See the Wagbo website for more about events and a map.)
One of my favorite things about Wagbo is its generous spirit. Bring a dish or not, there will be plenty either way. Bring a drill if you have one. Bring your own self and a good attitude and you will be welcome. You will have a good time. You can earn some maple syrup. There will be something useful for you to do and you will go home knowing that you have been part of something that is much older and much bigger than you are, even if you are a rotund old bat. I don’t see how you can go wrong.
You can find a very fine piece of writing about the sap run in the current issue of Edible Grande Traverse. (You might remember the author, Fischer Jex, from a 2011 post about ale brewing here on TLV.)
Finally, just because I stumbled upon it and have to share, here is a slideshow of some carnivorous eagles over in East Jordan. I found it on the Petoskey News-Review site, and I think you will enjoy it very much. The Cowboy should pay heed.