As a child, I read all sorts of historical stories about the East Coast, and more than one concerned itself with maple sugaring, both in stories of Native American peoples such as the Algonquin and Europeans who came to appreciate this source of sweetness in the land they settled. One of the primary principles of the village is that we must be tied to the land through the processes that grant us the food we eat. Another is self-sufficiency inasmuch as possible. So when friend, fellow Buddhist and exemplary Meg asked me if I’d like the chance to go maple sugaring this week, I was ecstatic.
So Monday night, after a great meeting, I rode home with Meg. We had a great chat the whole way, and when I got to her house, I met her son Jackson. Apparently, Jackson is also intensely concerned about the state of the world and studying sustainability. (Jackson, if this isn’t a good portrayal, I apologize). So the three of us had a good chat about all that, and I told him a bit about the village. He posed a lot of good questions about the social dynamics and how I think it’s all going to work. We all stayed up entirely too late talking – it was hard to stop. I couldn’t help but read a little about Michael Pollan’s mushroom hunting escapades before drifting off to sleep in Meg’s cozy quilt.
My alarm went off at 6:30, but I didn’t get serious about getting up until Meg poked her head in ten minutes later. I got up and we did our morning chanting together. Meg made my tea perfect, and after chanting proceeded to make a simple and delicious of scrambled fresh chicken eggs from her yard and hearty whole grain bread with jam. We talked about Alaska a bit over breakfast, mostly about bears and camping. Meg went to work, and shortly afterward, Jax drove me over to the Red Bucket Sugarhouse, owned by Jeff and Leanne, beginning my sugaring education. The sugarhouse itself is a modest wood building fronted by a dirt (and when I say dirt it means mud this time of year) road. To my surprised, Jeff’s isn’t a bucket operation. It used to be, but over the years as the business grew, he developed it into a sophisticated system. More on that next time.