Sunday, March 17, 2013

Day tripper

Yesterday we made a trek up to St. Johns University near St. Cloud to see this twig house/scuplture. It is called "Lean on Me" and was created by the artist Patrick Dougherty You may remember we have seen another house by this artist a few years ago. We tried to see another one of his houses in L.A. when we were there a few years ago and it was taken down a week before, so I wasn't going to let this one slip away too.

 A shot of the back of the house. It had five rooms in it and is based on the chapel on campus.

 The sculpture is made out of mostly willow saplings harvested from the St. Johns Arboretum and put together with the help of volunteers.

Another shot of the front. It was frigid out there with intense winds with no cover on a 20 degree day, but the newly-fallen snow, clear sky and plain landscape made for beautiful pictures.

I did a bit of research and after the twig house we went to the Arboretum on campus to the Maple Syrup Festival. They had horse rides (although the wheel broke before we got there, much to Harriet's disappointment), tours of the Sugarshack, tree tapping demos, syrup tasting, as well at ice cream with maple syrup on it. They have another one coming up in a few weeks if anyone is interested. Anyways, above is one of three evaporators the syrup goes through. St Johns doesn't make enough syrup to sell, so they give most of it to volunteers.

The sugarshack is powered by tons and tons of firewood from the arboretum. 

This hearty woodsman demonstrated how to tap the trees. It involves drilling a 1.5-2 ft hole in the tree, hammering in a metal spile that allows the sap to flow out. Then they attach the plastic buckets and put on the metal tops to keep out rainwater and also keep out squirrels. There are apparently other ways of doing this which involve a cloth bag instead of the bucket. Those are not reusable though.

Spring is ideal for collection and ideal conditions need to be cold nights below freezing and warm days above freezing. Last spring was apparently a terrible year because of the warm spring. It takes a lot of sap to make syrup given that much of it evaporates in the syrup-making process. On a good day they said that the plastic bucket will fill up twice with sap.

No comments: