Friday, March 24, 2006

Eastre's Sweet Water

Word from Amber Fox says we may be partaking in some maple syrup during the Eastre Gathering. Yesterday, maple trees were tapped for the first time in at least 20 years. Perhaps long before this tapping, these same sugar trees were tapped by First Nations peoples.

It is to be a celebration as the The Land aka Amber Fox delivers some of the sweetness of the earth for us to savour and be thankful. It is too rich yet it's true ...

Posted to our super secret list, came this message today, which I carefully vetted before posting here...

"The day is bright and beautiful here at Amber Fox, and sugar season is upon us! I tapped my first trees yesterday and was delighted to see the drops spashing into the bucket. The sap looks like water and has a subtle sweet taste. It's quite amazing to see the flow. I'll be tapping more trees this morning with the hopes that we'll each have a drop of very sacred syrup for the Eastre Gatherette. The ratio is 40 to 1, with 40 parts sap yielding 1 part syrup, so I've got a lot of collecting and boiling to do!" -- Chip

We know at the dawning of spring, as the days become warmer though the nights are still frosty, the sap is rising in the forest. Today I learned the First Nation peoples would cut a diagonal slash in each lower trunk of the maple trees (sometimes they did this with birch as well), and insert a hollow reed through which the sap would drip into a small bark container. These containers, likely made of birch, were emptied into a larger bark or log container.

Fire-heated stones were then dropped into these large bark containers until the sap was boiled down to a dark, sweet syrup called "sweet water." It's this sweet water we hope to share at our Eastre gathering.

More news from the Land surely tells us we are in sync with the planned gatherette...
"...the birds have returned! The spring air is filled with the sounds of geese. I can hear them in great honking gaggles,feeding and partying at the river."

Is it just me, the boy, or is it all of you, too, getting excited. In an earlier post I was sure to share my hope for the Easter bunny and chocolate. Are my words too subtle?--yet something tells me Eastre's Sweet Water will bring us a passion and celebration of life this year we won't want to miss. Can you hear the bird's song, does it call out to you...

The Sweet Water may not be much, whatever quantities it comes in, however small the partaking be, the magik is there for all.

1 comment:

cockelf said...

It's exciting to know that Chip is tapping a few of the maples this spring in hopes of enjoying some of their sweet, sticky sap.
Did you know that the maple trees at Amberfox were once tapped annually? Next time you are on the land, take a moment and look carefully in the tractor shed (or simply ask Ken to show you where to look). In there you might just discover some of the old metal pails that were used in that process nearly a century ago.

Legend tells us that long before the white man first ventured into the land of the Native People, maple syrup was already being enjoyed. They say that long ago maple syrup flowed directly from cuts in the maple tree. Didn't matter what time of year it was, the sweet maples gave their pure goodness year-round. One day the creator-god Glooscap walked into a village along the Saint John River (present day New Brunswick and Maine). There was no activity, no children playing, no mothers or fathers working, no dogs barking. Glooscap saw that everyone in the village was sitting beside the maple trees drinking and licking up the sweet syrup. Some people were even asleep letting the maple syrup drip into their open mouths!

Glooscap ordered the people to get up. There were fires to attend, hunting to be done, food to gather. But the people would not move. They were too intoxicated with the sweet syrup. Angered, the Creator took a large birch basket, ran down to the river, and filled it with water. He then poured the water over all of the maple trees. Immediately the syrup was diluted and was no longer sweet.

"Because of your laziness," he said, "the syrup from these trees will never again drip forth so sweet. From this day forward you will have to work to make it so. You will have to gather the sap and boil the syrup, and you must do so only in springtime. But rest assured," he told them, "if you are willing to work for it, you will again get to taste the sweetness of the maple trees".

And so it has been ever since!