We are in a liminal week which, I confess, is often spent doing liminal things, like cleaning out the holiday trappings and preparing for a brand-new year. And reflecting. And forecasting. We reflect on what was, we anticipate and hope for what will be. Cleaning seems to be busy (albeit necessary) work that helps both backward and forward reflection. Each year, to delay the cleaning, I often retire to the computer to write, which is exactly what is going on presently—the cleaning can wait. It always does.
I started the quiet part of the morning scrolling back to the first public article about Tapatree, which appeared in Modern Farmer magazine 210 weeks ago (I scrolled through IG for a long time to find it!). We were featured in “Meet the Modern Farmer,” a regular feature of the magazine. Back in the olden days—210 weeks ago—the magazine was still in its original glossy paper format. Now it is in a nimble climate-savvy format and appears as an e-zine. It evolved. We evolved.
At that earlier juncture in time, we were diving into the articulation of terroir in our syrup. In maple syrup, terroir is expressed in body, flavor,
color, and mineral content. Two hundred and ten weeks ago, we were mostly examining flavors and process. In the following 209 weeks, we started filling out the examination with Dr. Matt Hartings at American University in Washington, DC, and others. Dr. Hartings and his team have been taking the batched syrups and examining the microscopic character of our syrup, exploring the volatiles and mineral underpinning each of the expressed flavors…vanilla to caramel to fruits to coffee to soy (and everything in between). (Check out some of Dr. Hartings' work in his book, "Chemistry in Your Kitchen," link here!) The trees are alive and the way they interact with the world is dynamic. As the weeks and years roll by, we are adding nuance and appreciation to our knowledge of this tree gift, and hopefully communicating that to you in the form of even more delicious syrups.
The forests are filled with offerings, and 2021 brought us more hands, eyes, and hearts to raise them up. Antique apples for cider. Bushels of acorns for planting and milling into flour. Gazillions of northern black walnuts to make hull-dyes with and to gently roast for the winter season. It was the first year we have been able to spend time growing the tapestry of Tapatree, and it felt great. Hopefully, new harvests will be shareable in the coming year, even if on a very limited basis.
We are self-reflecting, measuring how far we may grow and what our growth priorities will be. The guiding concern will always be to respect the forest and protect the integrity and value of the forest offerings. It is through slowing down, listening, observing, and thoughtfully processing the bounty of the forest that we can best let the forest share its wisdom with us and our community. It is also the way to let the nutrients produced by the forest to flow to you, capturing all the natural goodness presented.
A couple of days ago I hung a new bird feeder outside the window near my computer. There are other feeders, but this is a bit of a waystation for the smaller birds coming through from the woods. It is a lovely distraction to see the chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches, goldfinches, woodpeckers, and blue jays hopping through the locust branches and through the garden remains. Maybe too much of a distraction, but I love it. It diverts my gaze and thoughts from the inside happenings. I see that they’ve emptied the seeds in just three days and are ready for a fill-up. Housework can wait a bit longer…the wilderness is calling.
May your hearts and spirits be full of joy as we end a complex year! Whatever awaits us in 2022 is sure to be distinctly “of the time,” and will be reflective of the moment. We look forward to sharing it with you!
Peace on earth, goodwill to all.