To Collecting Sap…

3 Mar

Earlier this week I wrote about my adventure tapping trees at the MacLeish Field Station. Today, I want to share my experience gathering the sap collected from those same trees.

On Wednesday I went back to MacLeish with Reid Bertone-Johnson, manager of the MacLeish Field Station, to collect sap. We only spent about an hour there, but it definitely felt like a lot longer. It was drizzling out, and snow had fallen the night before, which meant we were walking through a half of a foot of fresh snow just to get to the trees. Not only was that a challenge, but once I got to the trees I had to empty each bucket of sap into a five gallon bucket that was then used to carry the sap back to the main road and the larger 220-gallon holding container. There was so much sap on this particular day that it only took the sap from one or two trees to fill the entire five gallon bucket.

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This picture shows two of the trees that were tapped together with one of the five gallon buckets. After I emptied the small buckets the orange bucket was too heavy to carry and I had to go find another empty bucket to spread out the weight.

Needless to say, I was struggling. Being from southern California, I tend to “overdress” this time of year, so I was equipped with my large, water-proof winter jacket. It didn’t take long for my hair to get moist, whether from the rain or sweat I couldn’t tell you. Reid ingeniously suggested that we only fill the buckets half-way to carry them back, which I did, but it didn’t help much. I was still spilling sap all over myself, sweating, and tripping over my feet as I slogged with the heavy buckets through the snow. I don’t think Laura had to deal with this.*

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This is Reid! He is emptying one of our five gallon buckets of sap into the larger holding container that Mr. Bean will come to collect.

The result of our labor was a combined 37 gallons of sap from all 50 trees, making it the biggest single run thus far. And I am proud to report that the first tree I tapped produced about 5 gallons of sap that day. Reid called it a “hard core New England experience.” I’m going to call it the day the trees showed me who is boss.

This weekend I will be making my way to a local sugar house with other Smithies in hopes of enjoying some sugar on ice, just like Laura.

-Stefanie Cervantes, ’13

* Refers to author Laura Ingalls Wilder and her inspirational “The Little House on the Prairie” children’s book series.

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