Anderson: Waiting eagerly for sap to flow

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 15, 2013 - 12:21 AM

It’s a vulnerable time for those who cook syrup, and less expensive to ponder matters near home than to visit a supply store.

hide

Sap being collected in buckets in Quebec in March 2008.

Photo: Yannick Grandmont, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

On Wednesday in the sugar bush, the world appeared a peaceful place. Singing from a nearby treetop, a male cardinal serenaded squirrels that bounded on the crusted snow, while overhead, an eagle carved oblong loops in the cobalt sky. Taking it all in, a great year, it seemed, was in the offing for sap and, ultimately, for syrup.

Not that sap is flowing much just yet. Neither in winter nor quite yet spring, sap gathering often begins on chilled mornings, continues on warm, sunny afternoons, and concludes again in the cold of night.

Finally, when sufficient quantities of sap are stockpiled and the cooker is fired up, swans, ducks and cranes can be spotted aloft, pushing the snow line north, migrating.

Lon Navis is a fan of these times. A neighbor and master sap gatherer, Lon, a retired corporate pilot, stopped over early Wednesday with news that he might need help this year bringing his sap to the fire.

His son, age 30, Lon said, was due home from Los Angeles soon, and the two of them would be quickly off to D.C., not in a G-IV, in which Lon is more accustomed to traveling, but rather in his Prius.

“Apparently it’s important we get to Washington quickly,” Lon said. “My son wants to walk back to Los Angeles, across the country, and if he doesn’t get going in March, he says he could run into trouble come fall in the mountains.”

I considered this a long moment.

Then I said, “Makes my little world seem even more inconsequential than widely believed.”

“But there you have it,” Lon said.

He also said much of his sugar bush work in coming weeks would be relegated to another neighbor, a guy I alternately refer to as John the Welding Artist, or The Dude.

Relatively new to the neighborhood, John the Welding Artist hangs up his acetylene torch for long periods during sapping time. This requires customers of his welding business, which, curiously, he operates under the name Stranger Things Have Happened, to wait until a dozen or more gallons of syrup have been bottled before they receive their steel flowers and other metallurgical handiwork.

“I’ve got news for you, too,” I told Lon. “Big John up and bought a new cooker. It’s in the garage.”

Big John is a sap-gathering partner of mine who on a recent day visited Anderson Maple Syrup supply near Cumberland, Wis. — a daring move, considering he was in the highly fragile emotional state common to sugar-bushers in the pre-sapping season.

“Before he knew it,” I said, “he suffered a purchasing breakdown and coughed up a couple grand for a high-speed cooker.”

“Wood-fired?” Lon asked.

“No other,” I said.

With that, Lon was soon off to the East Coast, while I dispersed to the maple woods to size things up.

One concern was the deep snow. We gather sap using a four-wheeler with a 35-gallon tank strapped to it. If spring arrives early, the downside to this approach is a certain rutting of the landscape. Conversely, in deep snow, like this year’s, our rig might too often get stuck, reducing the collection of sap entirely to footwork — a worrisome possibility.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Orlando 7:00 PM
Memphis
Boston 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 35 2nd Half
American Univ 29
Wright State 33 2nd Half
Detroit 27
Syracuse 40 2nd Half
North Carolina 35
Cleveland State 22 2nd Half
Oakland 33
Delaware State 29 2nd Half
NC Central 27
High Point 31 2nd Half
Presbyterian 28
Howard 4 1st Half 17:20
Bethune-Cookman 5
Coppin State 0 1st Half 20:00
NC A&T 0
Nicholls 12 1st Half 10:22
Northwestern St 20
Hampton 9 1st Half 13:25
SC State 3
Gardner-Webb 7:00 PM
Campbell
MD-Eastern Shore 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Norfolk State 7:00 PM
Savannah State
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
McNeese State 7:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Milwaukee 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 7:30 PM
Alabama State
Prairie View 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Texas 8:00 PM
Iowa State
Texas Southern 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 39 2nd Half 12:13
Alabama A&M 34
Southern U 46 2nd Half 9:47
Alabama State 36
Texas Southern 43 2nd Half 11:13
Miss Valley St 38
(12) Texas A&M 31 2nd Half
(1) South Carolina 39
Robert Morris 36 2nd Half
Mount St Marys 21
East Tenn St 25 2nd Half
Mercer 25
Wofford 27 2nd Half
Furman 25
Morehead St 27 2nd Half
Tenn Tech 24
Illinois 24 2nd Half
Michigan 39
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 8:00 PM
Auburn
(15) Nebraska 8:00 PM
(20) Iowa
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close