Sap, Whiskey, and Wild, Wild Women by Beth-Marie Gardner

the future is female Feb 28, 2018

The sun is getting stronger, the sap is running, the children are muddy. On my walks in the morning I’m hearing the melting water run under the snow. It sounds like a hoard of insects ravishing some animal.

A few years ago we went in on an evaporater to make maple syrup with some of our favorite people. Sugaring season lasts a few weeks if were lucky. It usually starts with waist deep snow, taps and bucket set high in the maples and then by the end it’s all mud and we have to reach high for the buckets on the trees. Maybe it’s only a problem for me because I’m small. Most nights I’m up with my tribe of bold, irreverent girlfriends boiling away until midnight or later. Sometimes brave men join us. We make 15-20 gallons a year. Not much but enough for our families and gifts. Each gallon of syrup takes 40 gallons of sap. It’s a good wake up call and workout for our winter sleepy bodies.

We scrounge wood from our building projects throughout the year. As we split the wood we pay the kids a quarter if they find antique nails. Each piece of wood has a story, a memory. The kids look like muddy wildlings. They build jumps for bikes that are terribly dangerous. They go down hills and jumps inside 55 gallon barrels. We teach them how to split with a hatchet. We always enjoy the show. The kids can test the sap if they bring us wood. Finally, the kids go to bed and we buckle down to boil the barrels before it’s too late. We stoke the fire, fill the reservoir, strain the sap, draw the syrup, talk, hoot and holler. I try to drink sap and not too much whiskey because I have to get up in the morning early for  the farm, kids and to boil again. It’s a good way to say good bye to winter. Our thighs get burnt from hugging the stove but our butts get cold from the winter night.

This experience of writing for the future is female has been fascinating. I’ve been deeply uncomfortable. I’ve never put myself out there on the Internet. Privacy has been primary for me. Weekly, I’ve had to find courage to open up. Every post has felt like exposure, prickly fear. What I have found is that I love writing. It is such a treat for me to enter into this room in my mind. Every time I have hit publish on a post I’ve thought “ well thats shit! Oh well, I’m sick of it”. Yet, I have received letters and notes from old friends and new that have been moved by my words and inspired to write their own stories. I have been enriched by the other women writers in the future is female. What a gift to feel connection with others. This is my last post for this section. I’m unsure if I will continue. I have an ebb and flow in me that thrives on opening and connecting but also needs to live in solitude and  fill my well. I live deeply in the seasons. I thrive on change. How does one know when a season is expanding or contracting and find the bravest road? If you would like to stay in touch you can find me on Instagram. Reach out if you like. For the next few weeks you can find me in the sugarhouse.




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