Sunday, March 8, 2015

Alarming Events - A Real Wake Up Call

I awoke to the cardinals singing.  Perhaps, they knew I would be tapping trees today, and were beckoning me to rise and get moving.  Or, they were singing with pure bliss that Spring is here after a long, snowy Winter.

Other thoughts filled my head.  I was thinking about the class about backyard maple sugaring that we plan to offer this year.  More precisely, I was considering how to help people find maples when it is just time to tap.  I have been asked many times, but wanted to find a way to show it rather than just describe it.  Lying on the bed, I pulled the curtains aside to look at the sky.  This perfect descriptive view greeted me.

The tree on the left is a maple.  The one on the right is an oak.  Just looking at the photo as is, we can see some of the difference.  Closer inspection of a real tree, not a photo taken with a phone, will yield others.:
  • Maple branch and twig ends are slender.  Oaks twig ends flare out.
  • Maple branches gracefully sweep toward the sky.  Oak branches twist and bend with each fork.
  • Maples will shed all of their leaves in the fall.  Oaks will often hold some of the dry leaves.
  • Maple twigs and leaf buds are arranged in an opposite configuration.  Oaks prefer to be alternate.
  • Maple sap will start flowing about a month before that of the oaks.  Check the tips of the twigs for signs of life.  Early in the season the buds will be small on the maple trees, but they will be alive.  In fact, the buds will be fully developed, full size and obvious, at the end of the sugaring season.  My trees are Red Maples and when the sap starts to flow the tips of the twigs turn red instead of the gray the showed through the Winter.
  • Maples will drop maple leaves.  Oaks drop oak leaves and acorns.  If the ground is not too snowy, check the base of the tree to see what is there.  Obviously, this will work better if there is only one  type of tree in the area or if the tree is standing alone.
  • Maples, when tapped this time of year, will produce sap.  Oaks will not (see bullet above about sap flow).  Note, it is OK to make mistakes, because that is how we learn (sometimes we need to learn this lesson two years in a row).
  • If you are not in a hurry, you can wait for the Summer and make note of you maples for next year.
Yes, the cycle of the year has taken us back to sugaring season!  With each passing year, this MooseBoots learning feels more and more right.  I am truly blessed.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring Is Ringing The Door Bell ... Welcome It In

I like to think that I have developed a bit of awareness of my surroundings.  I know that I would like to continue to hone these skills.  I am so proud when Little Fire Faery points things out in nature ... a bird in a tree, a snake, a plant.  Her casual, easy connection with the Earth, and its host of beings, inspire me to work harder.

This Winter has been a particularly snowy one for us.  Well, really January and February were.  I recall thinking, in December, how mild the Winter was and how we would have plenty of firewood.  Perhaps, I jinxed us, but we received a number of storms that dumped more than a foot of snow at a time.  It gets harder to shovel the snow as the season winds on.  Usually, there are some warm days that help the snow settle a bit .... snow banks get a bit shorter.

This year, I have really become aware of the cardinals.  It happened a week or so ago, when it seemed like a few more big snow storms were taking us in their sites.  On morning, I opened the door to let the cat out and it hit me right in the face.  The world had exploded into cheery cardinal song, with calls and songs, surrounding me.  I could hear calls in every direction.

Cardinals and chickadees are year-round residents for us.  While the chickadees will sing their songs in the worst of the winter, often in the midst of storms, I don't remember ever hearing the cardinals.  I have seen them silently huddled in trees, or flitting to a feeder for a snack.

In some nature cultures, the cardinal is the daughter of the sun.  For me, this is particularly significant this year.  I have taken the cardinals as the messengers, carrying Spring in their songs, singing it back to us.  I have heard their song every day since that one.  The forecast is starting to show signs that the weather is turning.  I am watching the maples for signs that it is time to tap.

Spring is here!  And, had I not started down this MooseBoots path, had I not begun trying to reconnect with the Earth, I would not be so filled with joy at hearing this beautiful song.

May your day be filled with beauty and warmth.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Last fall, I was fortunate enough to beat the local critters to some of the hazelnuts that blessed our area.  I gathered about 5 lbs worth.  Of course, the husks need to dry before the nuts can be removed reliably.

With an injured ankle, and vigilant family hounding  me to keep from using it, I sat down to remove the now dry husks.  While 5 pounds of nuts sounds like a lot, and looked like a lot with the husks, it fills not much more that a single quart sized jar with the husks removed.

Here they are.  I am half way through the complete process.  Next, I need to shell them.

Life is good!