"You've got to read Little House in th' Big Woods" she said.
"I already have" I told her. "When we lived in Chicago, remember."
"Actually," she reminded me "I read it to you. And you fell asleep through most of it."
"I know," I say, "it was a good book."
"It talks all about how they make maple syrup, and maple sugar. Oh how I wished that we could do that. My whole life I've wished it."
"Well," I say "let's give it a shot."
It was one of those days in February. You know, th' kind where th' sun is shining on th' snow lying all around. Temperature's rising, snow balls a flyin. You remember days like this in th' past when you had actually dug holes through th' snow to plant some of your cold weather crops. Because you knew spring was coming. But you'll not do that again. Such was th' day when Beth came out and said "Oh it's a beautiful day. We should go set some taps and romp around in th' woods."
"Yeah!" says Fynn, "let's go on an adventure."
"That's a great idea," I say "I'll whip us up some taps right now."
"Papa look out!" Fynn giggles, as one last snow ball explodes in my face.
|whittlin a bamboo tap|
I make us three simple taps from some bamboo we harvested last year, pack up a tool box with all the essentials, drill bits, drill, mallet, hatchet, and a copy of Backyard Sugarin, we grab a few orange juice jugs and soon we're in th' woods, knee deep in snow.
"This is so nice." says Beth, "I was feeling a bit crazy this morning. I already feel much better. Oh how I love th' woods."
|th' peace of th' winter woods|
|knee deep for a four year old|
"Yep." I say.
All summer long I rode around town learning to identify trees by their bark. I'd just ride with my head down, looking at th' base of th' tree, make my best guess, then check th' foliage for the answer.
"I've got maples down pat. And box elder too. Look, there's one right here."
|poudre river silver maple|
Fynn runs all around th' forest, exploring, squealing, sliding in th' snow.
I get out th' drill and get to work. We've only brought three taps with us. We've never done this before. Better to start small, see what happens. During th' tapping Fynn gets interested and comes on over to pay closer attention. He's a smart boy.
|drilling into th' tree|
|rounding off th' corners of th' bamboo|
|settin th' tap with a wooden mallet|
|he'll know how to do this from a young age|
|note the end of th' tap|
"Our water jugs are almost invisible in th' snow." says Beth. "If they didn't have a blue top and a yellow label, no one would even see them."
"Well," I say, "we can peel th' label off. Besides, people hardly notice what's around them anyway."
I cut a small hole near th' top of th' jug, so it'll hang on th' tap. We place it on th' tree. Beth smiles. It's th' beginning of a dream come true. Sure we live in Colorado. Sure there's no sugar maples around here. But we've got to be resourceful. We've got to be creative. We'll never know what could've been done if we don't try. Besides, I'd tap driftwood if it would get me out into th' woods for a few hours.
|cut a small hole near th' top|
|and hang it on th' tap|
|now that's a happy camper|
|poudre river in February|
"This is just th' beginning." I say to Beth. "There's more taps coming. More trees to find. More adventures to go on. More snow in our boots."
"More rocks to throw!" adds Fynn.
"Yes. And snowballs too!" I say as I quickly form one and splatter him with it.
He squeals "Heeeeeeeeeeeee!" And then I'm facing a torrent of snow and laughter. We play for a while, tap a couple more trees and then move on.
Th' cold air fills our lungs. The calm, our spirits. And I've a mind to read that book.
As we leave, th' woods are quiet.
They are silent in our absence.