Collecting Sugar Maple Sap

Last Friday I posted my second Girl on the Go event—making maple syrup. This past Saturday I went to Whitewater State Park to learn about the process. It was a beautiful day and perfect for collecting sugar maple sap.

The event started in the park office. The Interpretive Naturalist that works for the park gave us a little history about maple syrup. Apparently, an Iroquois Indian chief stumbled across the sap when he swung his axe into a sugar maple tree. When he pulled his axe out, he noticed the liquid dripping from the tree. The Native American Indians began curing meat and cooking with the sap. They also made maple rock candy to lengthen the shelf life.

After the history lesson, we drove a short distance to a gated driveway in the park. There were several trees in close proximity, called a sugar bush, that had buckets attached to spiles, or spouts, collecting the sap.

The first mission for the group was to find a maple tree. Since it was a little more difficult to find a maple tree without leaves, the Naturalist instructed the group to look for three things.

First, look for trees with long, rough bark. Then, look for new branches that are growing opposite each other, making a t-shape off of the larger branch. And last, check the dead leaves surrounding the tree and determine if the leaves are maple leaves.

searching for a sugar maple tree

Once a tree is selected, it’s important to make sure the tree is large enough to collect sap. The tree needs to be about 10″ in diameter. The tree our group found was the perfect size, so we put a spile, or spout, into the tree.

First a hole was drilled into the tree with a 7/16″ drill bit. The hole was dug at an angle so the sap would drain into the bucket.

drilling a hole for sugar maple sap

After the hole was drilled, the spile was added, and the bucket was hung on the spile.

Collecting Sugar Maple Sap Haiku

 

After collecting sap, the sap was put into a large, metal container for boiling. The boiling process takes about 4 hours.

boiling the sap from the sugar maple tree

Since the process takes a while, we obviously didn’t taste the syrup from the tree that we tapped. But, the Naturalist did have a small container of syrup made from another batch.

Now for the best part, right? Tasting.

The Naturalist passed around small paper cups and a little shot of syrup. Well, even though I have been wanting to learn about the process, I hate the taste of maple syrup. I always have. I put blueberry syrup on my pancakes. Nevertheless, I did try the syrup because I thought it would make a difference since it was fresh. Nope. I didn’t like it one bit. I gave the rest to my husband.

Even though I didn’t like the taste of the syrup, the whole process is fascinating, and now I understand why it’s so expensive! There is only a three week time period right before spring when the sap can be collected, and, the process takes a while.

Today’s Haiku:

sugar maple sap
boils into dark sweet syrup
warm, springtime sun

~

Do you like maple syrup? Do you prefer the real maple syrup or does Aunt Jemima work for you?

~Nicole

Girl on the Go: Making Maple Syrup

Hey, Hey, it’s Friday!

If you recall, last week I started my Girl on the Go list, aka the bucket list. Last week, I started my list with making soap. I signed up for this class on April 3rd. The owner of  Simple Soaps for Simple Folks offers classes on a regular basis. More details to come…

Today, I have another easy task to add to my list. It’s so easy that I am going to accomplish this on Saturday. I am traveling to Whitewater State Park Saturday afternoon to make maple syrup. The DNR hosts a variety of classes at Whitewater State Park during the week, and this weekend it’s all about making maple syrup.

I have been wanting to do this for a while, but haven’t had the chance. When my editor contacted me and asked if I would cover this event for the newspaper, I was ecstatic!

tapping-maple-trees-haiku

image credit: knoxvillefirearmschool.com

 

Today’s Haiku:

collecting sap
from a grand old maple
first taste of spring

 ~

 Has anyone made maple syrup before?

Have a fantastic weekend! I am taking the day off from my blog on Saturday, but I’ll be back on Sunday with a haiku created with a prompt from Haiku Horizons. I’ll also have a few tidbits from my maple syrup making excursion.

Please check out more Girl on the Go adventures by clicking the link!

~Nicole

A Hiking We Will Go

A winter wonderland…

I love hiking in Whitewater State Park. I always find beauty each time I go.

Hiking up the Dakota trail in snowy conditions

A gorgeous view atop the bluffs

High on the bluffs overlooking the Meadow Trail

A Hiking We Will Go Haiku

Ascending…
arrive atop the bluffs
wintry landscape

My goal…less is more. I enjoy deviating from the traditional 5-7-5 haiku rules.

I will continue experimenting with line length, punctuation and strong words to describe a scene, feeling or thought.

I’ll be spending my Black Friday painting, writing and hopefully reading. Is anyone else avoiding retail stores on this crazy day?

~Nicole

Finding Beauty Throughout the Day

It’s time for the weekly Haiku Challenge. In the month of September, I posted a haiku poem for each day. I enjoyed this process and I decided to continue building my collection of haiku poems. Each week, I will post at least one haiku along with a photo.

The image below was taken from my hike last week in Whitewater State Park. This picture resonates with me because even though our path through life is challenging, there is beauty all around. I hope this little slice of life brings peace to your day, whether you are overworked or feeling ill. Take each step one by one…find beauty in everything you do.

Bridge in Whitewater State Park

Haiku Challenge

Traveling down a
path, not knowing where it leads.
Find beauty each day.

Tell me something beautiful in your life?

~Nicole

 

Family of Asters

Hey, Hey, It’s Monday!

Tonight I am attending a wine tasting at my friend’s house, who is also the editor/publisher of Rochester Women magazine. The wine tasting is research for my next article. We are tasting dessert wines from local wineries. And dessert wines are my favorite!

I hope to have a post tomorrow about this experience, but that might be pushing it. The deadline for this article was due on the 22nd of September. Yep, a week ago.

Unfortunately, our schedules were so hectic this was the day the five of us could get together. I’ll be pecking away at the keyboard trying to finish the dessert wine article as soon as possible. But, my last haiku is scheduled for tomorrow and I don’t want to miss the last day! I am thinking a haiku based on dessert wine.

Anyway, I managed to take about 100 photos this weekend on my hiking adventures. So, here is another image from Saturday. It’s my inspiration for the Haiku Challenge.

Flowers in Whitewater State Park

Day 29: Haiku Challenge

Pale purple asters
blooming. Gathered together
like a family.

What is your favorite fall flower?

~Nicole

 

 

At One with Nature

Hello,

I hope you have had a great weekend!

I enjoyed my hike so much on Friday, I decided to go back to Whitewater and hike a different trail on Saturday afternoon. It has been a nice alternative to running around my neighborhood or hitting the gym.

I hiked the Dakota trail and took a different route at the top. At the first fork in the trail I meandered down the hillside to the Valley Trail. The trail was shrouded by trees still full of leaves, and many of the downed trees and rocks were covered with moss.

Valley Trail in Whitewater State Park

Whitewater State Park

The trail followed the river for a bit and that’s were I found the inspiration for my next haiku.

Whitewater River in Whitewater State Park

Day 28: Haiku Challenge

Mossy river bank—
little nooks and crannies are
filled with the unknown.

Are any of you avid hikers or nature lovers?

~Nicole

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Friday was a productive day. And though I haven’t had time to post any haiku poems in the last couple of days, I am ready to make up for lost time.

I left work at 1:30 on Friday and went to Cabin Coffee. I had a bowl of soup for lunch and wrote an article from the event I covered Thursday evening at the local elementary school. The event was Bingo for books. There were about 40 elementary school students with their families playing Bingo. The winners of Bingo were able to select a book of their choice. It was refreshing to see little bookworms so excited about reading.

I finished the article and cut lines for the photos and sent them to my editor. After a working lunch (which is how I spend most lunches) I went home and started a painting. I have another Wine & Canvas event coming up in October. Actually, I have two in October, one the first weekend in November and another one on December 12th. I finished the background of one of the paintings and decided a hike would be the perfect way to round out the day.

Since Whitewater State Park is close in proximity (and it’s gorgeous this time of year), I decided to hike the Dakota Trail. It was a beautiful fall afternoon. I wore a long sleeve shirt, but soon realized it was unnecessary.

The Beauty in Whitewater State ParkTHe Dakota Trail

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Although, the treetops were fiery shades of orange, red and yellow, there were already many leaves that were asleep on the trail. The curled leaves crackled and crunched beneath my feet and every so often there was one sad green leaf that didn’t have the opportunity to turn a warm golden or fiery red color.

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park

Overlook on the Dakota Trail

I wound my way up the rocky cliffs and followed many stairways, some as steep as ladders. The chipmunks put me to shame. Those critters scurried up the steep staircase like their tail was on fire. When I arrived at the top, I couldn’t resist taking more photos of fall foliage.

I took the shortest loop because it was after 5 p.m. I didn’t know how long the hike would take, plus I wanted to go to the Marnach house. The hike to the Marnach House was about 45 minutes round trip.

The Marnach House was my final destination. This building has been restored as a monument and tribute to all Luxembourg pioneer immigrants by the Luxembourg Heritage Society of America.

It was first built in 1857 by John and Nicholas Marnach. They were immigrants from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It’s masonry and architecture are typical of small Luxembourg farms of the nineteenth century.

Dakota trail at Whitewater State Park

And now, for the Haiku Challenge

The Beauty in Whitewater State Park Day 25: Haiku Challenge

Writhing snake-like roots
intertwined with earth and rock—
creeping and crawling.

Fall trees starting to turn colors

Day 26: Haiku Challenge

Minnesota hills
and the warm treetops embrace.
Good night setting sun.

The Dakota trail overlooking whitewater creek.

Day 27: Haiku Challenge

Like a bird soaring
high above the river, I
look, listen and breathe.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

How did you spend your Saturday?

~Nicole

 

 

Chimney Rock Hiking Adventure

It’s Tuesday after a holiday weekend and today snuck up on me. I know it’s Writing Prompt Tuesday, and I have that prepared, but my Flash Fiction piece from last week isn’t finished.

Have you ever had one of those days, or, in my case, one of those weekends where you run around trying to get things done, but nothing really gets accomplished. Well, that was my Labor Day Weekend! I am hoping for lots of writing to happen this week.

So, for today, I bring you Day 2 of the Haiku Challenge and another writing prompt.

Chimney Rock hike in Whitewater State Park.

Chimney Rock hike in Whitewater State Park.

Day 2: Haiku Challenge

Massive Chimney Rock.
Perched on a ledge peering at
summer foliage

Now, about that Flash Fiction Prompt…

Remember the writing prompt isn’t always about getting a final piece completed, but it’s about getting the creativity flowing.

  • Character-Police Officer
  • Setting-Hollow Tree
  • Plot-A character overhears a shocking conversation

Have a great Tuesday!

Did anyone write over the long weekend? If so, what did you write about?

~Nicole

 

It’s Time for the Haiku Challenge!

I can’t believe it’s September! Although, I love the Minnesota summers, Autumn is also another beautiful time of the year. I thought it would be fun to combine one of my favorite forms of poetry along with photography to create the Haiku Challenge!

Traditionally, haiku has been constrained to the 5-7-5 rule, meaning, the first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables and the third line has 5 syllables. But, at times, modern haiku deviates from these rules.

According to the website Poets.org, haiku often focuses on images from nature. Haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression.

Poets.org goes on to discuss some of the masters of haiku poetry. Among the greatest traditional haiku poets are Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki. Here are a few examples from the masters of haiku poetry:

Matsuo Basho

An old pond!
A frog jumps in—
the sound of water.

Yosa Buson

An evening cloudburst
sparrows cling desperately
to trembling bushes

Kobyashi Issa

Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
pricks like a bramble.

Masaoka Shiki

the sun set behind
a traveling monk
tall in the withered field

Here is the image for my first Haiku. 

One of the many bridges on Trout Run trail in Whitewater State Park.

One of the many bridges on Trout Run trail in Whitewater State Park.

Haiku Challenge: Day 1

A tranquil, shallow
creek—resilient bridge supports
the lonely hiker.

One of the main reasons I love haiku poetry is for its simplicity. As I read through the traditional and contemporary haiku poems, I am amazed at how easy it looks to write. But, when I sit down and put pen to paper, it’s always a challenge!

Have you ever tried writing haiku poetry?

What other forms of poetry do you like writing?

Happy Labor Day!

~Nicole