Hello again Maple People,
I got a distinct message on October 12 in another language, the universal language of "changing seasons". It came with our first snowflakes and was instantly translated in vastly different ways; to our Hawaiian guests, it brought appropriate awe but to me, Vermonter of many winters, it brought a stern "Oh c'mon, not this early!". It was, however, real, unavoidable, and most especially, nature. Nature…I wonder if she'll simply "photocopy" last winter's lethargy or "sock it to us"? If it's the latter, my thoughts go to the wild animals who will have four months of struggle ahead.
My son Tommy recently brought in a "Field and Stream" caliber photo of a six-point buck he'd captured on his digital camera. The buck stood majestically under an apple tree just a stone's throw from his house. With both hunting season and winter coming right up I wonder, will this guy's future include "frigid Vermont" or "Frigidaire"? One of our employees, Sheryl Larkin brought in a whole portfolio of Vermont wildlife taken by her husband's webcam down in their apple orchard…bear, deer, raccoons, turkeys, coyotes… yikes I thought, Orwell's "Animal Farm" and "1984" come alive right there in Northfield, Vermont!
Vermont maple process including my suggestion, after removing my cap, that drinking maple sap causes baldness. Folks always get a kick out of that caper. I then go on to the subject of local varmints that shatter our maple sugar world. Deer, moose and squirrels pose a three-pronged attack these days on our plastic tubing systems. Of the three, squirrels with their incessant gnawing, are by far the worst. Recently a southern lady spoke up after I had showed the picture of a sap line severed by one of the varmints…"c'n ah assume from yah remahks that y'all have an abunOur sugarhouse presentation here at Morse Farm reveals some humorous "peculiarities" of the dance o' bald-headed squirrels in VERmont?". That not only "brought the house down" but activated my creative bent toward a future Seussianesque children's book…how 'bout "Bald Heads and Scram"?
On the same day, another of our sugarhouse guests, a guy from Down Under, wanted to tell me about a certain pest they have these days in Australia's outback. "Thought y'd loike t'heah abaaat one of ahh pists back howhm, myte…kimmels!". Being still in the "squirrel" mode, I stupidly said, "you mean camel squirrels…do they have humped backs?" He shot back quicker'n a Darwin dust storm, "no, no myte…oiye mean kimmels…bloody stinkin' kimmels!". He went on to say that it's not only kangaroos posing pest problems back home but feral camels (someone once brought them in from "bloody Aryebia"). "Th'buggahs'll crash down ahh finces an at 'noite whinn we're aslipe in ahh ricks, they'll crush us t'dith!". Being rather influent in this "second language", I questioned him about "ricks" and learned they sleep under the stars over there in mattresses made of hay (ricks). Stupidly I asked about the rain…"Good hiivens myte, we hahve no ryne in th'outbahck!".
There's certainly no lack of variety in our foliage season sugarhouse. We see folks from all over the world but most especially, we hear about their customs, hear how they talk, and learn new things from them. We also learn to "dream" of things like bald-headed squirrels in VERmont maple trees…what a "hoot"!
As I close this writing, I think again of Northfield and East Montpelier wildlife: bear, raccoons, coyotes, turkeys, prize-winning bucks, and, worst of all, squirrels. Yup, they're all part of life around here just like the guarantee that winter's coming on.
Brrrrrr…think I'll light a fire tonight and sleep, peacefully, knowing there's a roof over my head and a total absence of wild camels.