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South | North

On a Windswept Hillside

The mountains are calling and I must go.
~ John Muir

Snow Drops

We finished up reading Sugaring Time this week and the children and I were thinking about maple syrup.  Roan had been collecting sap from the dogwood tree and boiling it down on the front porch.  I made chocolate chip pancakes for Mike on a rare weekday morning at home.  After lunch, we left Mike at home to just be while we went on a mama-venture.

Collection buckets

We went to the Whitetop community first to see if anyone was at the sugar house.
No one was, so we went back up to Elk Garden.

Brier Ridge and Mount Rogers

This hillside.  I cannot say how many times I have photographed it.
It changes with the seasons, of course, but it is unchanging, too.
Sprinkle my ashes here.  Let the winds carry me away one last time.


Roan, who handles details, checked ferns for spores.
He really does remember just the littlest things, like the way Christmas ornaments smell.


Willow and Roan took off up that hillside and Laurel and I picked our way along.
Or, puffed our way along.  There were so many!
It made me remember coming here with my dad twenty years ago.

Climbing 1

Laurel would not be outdone by Roan and Willow.
They may have had speed, but she had skill.

Climbing 2

She chose the very rockiest places to climb and did very well.
Only toward the end did she get a littel frustrated and come over to me.
I think this says something interesting about her character and what her life may be.

On the hilltop

When Willow is in a mood to travel, off she goes.
We finally caught up to them here.

In the wind

As we were working our way down, I saw a flash of a truck in the woods.
Sure enough, there was a fire truck with a load of sap coming out!

Sap truck

You can see that we are not wasting governement dollars here.
I told Roan that these firemen make maple syrup, molasses, apple butter and grilled chicken.
He was sold on the idea of becoming one.

Collection tank

We heard an engine in the woods, so we went down the little road to check.
At the collection tank, a pump was running.

Pumping sap

I figured the sap was gravity-fed, but no.
It was spraying into the tank.

Sap pump

Here's the generator and the pump. We'd never seen it run.
My guess is that they turn it on when they have people to collect sap.


We walked around the tubes for a little bit and I discovered that you could actually hear the sap coming down.  What a special day it was, one to remember like the day we flew the kites.  The children were integrated and happy and full of wonder.  Me, too.  Roan said it was better than fluffing peat moss, which we had done that morning.  Fluffing peat moss (which comes in compressed bales) is better than getting toys or being a cowboy, so I think that is a pretty high compliment.  We closed the day with a campfire to burn up some old, rotten wood and then fell into bed.


( 1 tree — Plant a Forest )
Mar. 10th, 2016 01:54 pm (UTC)
I loved this post--what a day full of adventure and the best kind of learning: exploration. Your photos are wonderful, as are your insights into your children's personalities. And that hillside is truly awesome.

( 1 tree — Plant a Forest )

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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