"Bad Decisions Make Good Stories"
"Bad Decisions Make Good Stories"
Outdoor writer, retired warden and old soldier Bill Crisp's outdoor columns can be accessed here.
Stories on all types of fishing, hunting, mushrooming and access to great apparel. Bill's articles are almost funny, humor based fiction filled, non fiction stories. If we're lucky there will be tips of the trades and seasonal updates!
I 49:2 I 6:8 P 18:34
Lake Erie out from Walnut 300 degrees NW. Orange crush bandits at 50' of water (185' on 40; dipsy)
I stood at my window looking at the woods while sipping a cup of coffee. The mind wanders during these moments to things like, “Are the deer thinking about me, too?” Also, after a hot sip burns my lip, I remember that my children may still suffer from flashbacks and PTSD each February 1st. Obviously, I am exaggerating about my kids getting such a serious thing as PTSD on February 1st. It does not kick in full on until President’s Day weekend.
The forest before me, misted behind the steam from my cup, is predominately maple. I bought this land to instill a love of agriculture, forestry, and wildlife into my offspring with a touch of work ethics. I had a strong back and no mind, so being industrious as we were, they were yoked to sleds, dragging spools of wire, tubing, buckets, spiles, and tools up a mountain each winter. They climbed through a forest blanketed with a minimum of three feet of snow. Once, while working alone, I fell and the snow was so deep that I got suspended in the middle of the snow and was not able to find the ground until getting my snowshoes off. So, my little elves could not always go up the mountain, saved by snow days. I am not a heartless slave driver; they had snow shoes…they did not even have to share them. When my kids say they walked up hill both ways through six feet of snow, in their case, it is not an exaggeration.
Not everyone was miserable about it. The bears thought it was a great idea. They would come out of hibernation, bite the main line in half to lay under it and drink their fill each spring. After a few years, this situation coupled with extended binding arbitration with my family over a sap strike ventured to end my sap collecting endeavor. When it comes up at home, I ask, “But we had good times guys, right? Right?” I never get an answer to that.
It's not like they did not get anything out of it. I paid them a portion of our profits if we made any. I would show the math for their percentage of zero but I recently pulled a math muscle in an equation accident. There were perks. Clothing and equipment were provided. The also got a big fancy breakfast on opening day and free sled riding! They got all the maple sap they wanted to drink! We brought hot chocolate up there and usually, after that was gone, they would start getting in the way and I would send them back to the house. They did get lost once but a neighbor found them and took them in. Look, if you ever find stray kids on your doorstep, take them in, do not ask too many questions and give a day or so before you call the police. Luckily, my neighbor and resident bear follows those rules. I am sure they would whine that the bear lives closer than my neighbor…
In the end, the weather and bears conspired to halt that operation. I can say that maple fed sugar bear sausage is delicious but not enough to save my sap lines. The weather, with a June freeze followed by a gypsy moth year, drove the sugar content of our sap so low that it was pretty much worthless for syrup making. Yet, for some reason, my kids celebrate the kick off of maple season like it’s a major holiday, but I suspect they are celebrating that we are no longer in the maple business…
See you along the stream
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