The Sapping season locally has been showing changes in the past three seasons. The runs are having longer down times due to warmer temperatures and fewer freezing nights during the sapping moons. Locally our families are seeing the changes in our environment as described in our prophecies. Haudenosaunee prophecies speak of the heating up of Mother Earth and a time when ground resting birds sit in trees to cool their bodies. We also hear the scientific community’s warnings of what we know, as they create maple tree extinction models. Their models are predicting the rate of hardwood forest loss due to raising temperatures of the North East. This is alarming, but we continue to encourage the Haudenosaunee to continue to collect the sap and are mindful that our observations will guide us through our changing lands. We know sapping and giving thanks is our responsibility. Locally tapping began Tsyothorko:wa 12, “the time of great coldness” during the full moon. We had one good run during this moon. Then in Ennihska “The Time of Lateness”,we had 2 runs and are still waiting for the runs in Ennishko:wa “The Time of the Great Lateness.” I often wonder if the names for these moons reflect the fact that we get our best quality maple syrup in the earliest runs and as things get later and later the quality of our syrup diminishes. Some believe Full moons are usually have the best runs as the moon’s gravity pulls the sap up out of the roots similar to the moon’s effects on the tides. We will wait to test this as this month’s full moon begins on the 12th with a snow storm locally, meaning too cold and the season might be done. It would be good locally to discuss the changes our gathering families are seeing and discuss what may be our future. As we get ready to boil, we are reminded of the Creator’s way of teaching us to get gathering when the sap starts running as you never know how long the season will be. Sometimes its good, sometimes its not. Sap is a clear, sweet liquid low in sugar. We boil to evaporate the water to produce a syrup with 60% sugar content and the distinct maple flavour. The best sap for syrup is the earliest as it has the highest sugar content and takes the least amount, 20-30 gallons to make one gallon of syrup. Maple trees can produce from 8-100 gallons of sap in a season depending on the size of the tree, its canopy,and amount of sun exposure. Grade A light, medium and dark amber in colour. Grade B is richer, stronger and thicker and most people use this in cooking, but some do still like it on pancakes. You need large storage containers for the sap but it can’t sit too long or it gets cloudy and sours. Store the sap on the cold north side of your house. The sugar will settle and you can lift the thin ice layer daily and toss it out as it contains no sugar and cuts your boiling time. Straining sap through filters helps clean it before you boil. When you boil sap, water evaporates and sugar remains and nothing needs to be added. Just boil and skim the foam occasionally to clarify the sap. Keep adding sap to your evaporator or pan. Boiling takes hours and best to do outside. Some believe the open fire pit adds to the flavour as well. You can cool and restart the boiling process at another time. During the final stages of boiling the syrup thickens quickly so it must be watched in case it boils over or burns. Some will hang a white pine branch just above the pan as it is a way to keep the syrup from foaming up and boiling over, others use a bit of butter. We finish off the boiling in the house because of this and thermometers help as a guide. I just watch the syrup run off a metal spoon in thin ribbons like in jelly-making. Not enough boiling and the syrup is too watery, and doesn’t have a good flavored. Too much boiling make it too dark and thick and can easily burn. The big syrup producers will hide burnt syrup by diluting it with good syrup as it is costly to lose a big batch. So enjoy your syrup and keep drinking the sap for your spring cleanse as we transition into a spring diet