Cookery Maven Blog

A Snowy Walk To The Sugarbush

Spring officially starts on Wednesday but you wouldn't know it by looking outside, there is a lot of snow on the ground (and more on the way tomorrow).  Last year, the kids were at the beach in their swimsuits (check it out here). What a difference a year makes.

The Bayfield Regional Conservancy hosted a Full Moon Luminary cross-country ski out the Nourse Sugarbush at the end of January and the kids and I signed up for a little night skiing adventure. We skied the Sugarbush Trail, lit with luminaries, in a light snowfall— I remember thinking I needed to imprint that night in my brain, it was absolutely magical. When Will, Sadie and I were looking for a photo safari destination, I knew just the spot. A hike out to the sugarbush while there was still snow on the ground was just as magical in the daylight.

According to the Bayfield Regional Conservancy website, 'For hundreds of years, the sugarbush was a spring destination for Ojibwe people, who were the first to tap those maple trees for producing maple syrup. Slash marks from those days are still evident on the oldest trees.  The Nourse family has continued the tradition since the 1920’s.  A small cabin (c. 1920) and tin storage shed used for maple syrup production still exist on the property and are used for annual sugaring operations by the Nourse Family who retained lifetime rights to harvest syrup'. Walking among the old growth maples, before they were tapped, was the perfect way to recognize the passing of winter into spring. Although, I bet we have a couple more snowfalls in our future before 'real' spring settles in for good— this is Northern Wisconsin, after all.

A View From The Top

I celebrated a birthday in October and we walked up to the top of Mount Ashwabay for a photo safari. It was the perfect way to usher in my 43rd year— a bird's-eye of the lake, the last russet and gold leaves, a brilliantly blue sky and of course the kids and dog (George was the only dog invited). Sadie, George and I opted for a kinder, gentler stroll up Swiss Miss but Meg, Charlie and Caroline went big and decided to head straight up the Drop. We met at the top, took a hiatus to catch our breath and take in the view. It's truly one of the best views up here and well worth the climb.

As I sit here at the kitchen table (three weeks after this beautiful afternoon), listening to the election results roll in, I can't begin to imagine the spectrum of emotions each candidate must be feeling. After months of campaigning, it comes down to the individual votes of millions of people throughout the country. I was the 75th voter in Bayfield this morning and while I'm far removed from the spotlight of Cuyahoga County in Ohio, my vote counts. Of course, I would love to wake up tomorrow with President Obama in office for another four years but it's out of my hands and into the collective hands of everyone who voted today.

One of the gifts of aging is my deep understanding of the power and sense of peace that comes with surrender and fully living in the present moment. As I move into my 43rd year (and away from a divisive and often ugly campaign season), I intend to embrace what's surrounding me every day— my raucous, loving family and friends, free thinking dogs, fantastic dinners and wine, good books and great stories, Lake Superior's water and beaches and the trees who watch over me. Lord knows, it'll be a challenge but it's enough.

You Reading This, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember? How sunlight creeps along a shining floor? What scent of old wood hovers, what softened sound from the outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world than the breathing respect that you carry wherever you go right now? Are you waiting for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this new glimpse that you found; carry into evening all that you want from this day. This interval you spent reading or hearing this, keep it for life —

What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

William Stafford