Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Bark Is Hard On The Lips


.
He was born with the name George, but everyone called him Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag (he who necks with trees). Though you might not recognize his nickname, you'll recognize it as a First Nation name...there's just something about the spelling.
.
Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag was a bit of an outcast within his tribe. As a child, he acted no differently that the other children of the Bigmackatac tribe. He built toy bows and arrows, threw rocks at rabbits and perfected his armpit farts. He didn't stand out among his peers, until he reached the adolescent years and started showing an interest in girls. Sadly, Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag didn't have much luck with the ladies.
.
On one memorable evening during an uncharacteristically warm March evening, he took his date out to a local restaurant, certain that a nice meal would win her heart.
.
I'll have the pemmican burger with a side order of cattail fries. My date would like the porcupine casserole.
.
Would you'se like drinks?
.
Just lake water, thanks.
.
No problem, hun.
.
Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag and his date, Kouchiyalemmeordaformyself, had a huge blowout after the meal. She was incensed that he would have the gall to order for her. Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag knew that porcupine casserole was the house specialty and he wanted to impress his date. Instead, the evening was a disaster. Kouchiyalemmeordaformyself went back to her teepee immediately after dinner.
.
Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag was alternately scratching his head, wondering what went wrong, and banging it against the old sugar maple on the edge of the village. The sound of the banging resonated throughout the village. He repeatedly smacked his head against the tree, in frustration, until the bruised bark of the ancient maple started to swell. Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag rested his angry head against the swollen bark. The maple started to ooze a clear sap, some of which brushed Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag's seldom kissed lips. The sweetness of the sap crept onto his tired tongue.
.
Then the lights went on!
.
Actually it was Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag's father who came out with a torch, wondering if his eldest son was okay.
.
Dad, lick this tree!
.
Sorry, son, remember what happened when I licked that toad?
.
Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag's father wandered back home leaving Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag alone in the dark. He slept under the tree on that warm and fateful evening. The next morning he was covered in sap. Winnie, his pet bear cub, was licking his face.
.
Stay here, Winnie, I'll be right back. Mactasucknasaptaquacnekeag returned with a birch bark lined basket and began to collect the sap....
.
....and this is how the maple syrup industry was born. Well, this is my version.
.
If you want to read another version, perhaps one more believable, then click here and you'll be magically taken to the web site of a company that puts small quantities of maple syrup in maple shaped bottles, then sells them to unsuspecting tourists at Canadian airports for extraordinary profits. The link will take you to a page that offers a historical perspective. You'll also find more information at Wikipedia, should you care to pontificate on sugar maples (what kind of an ass would do that?).
.
I learned that Quebec produces about 75% of the world's maple syrup, though, in my opinion, Vermont is a more sap savvy seller of the succulent syrup. In any event....
.
Vive le Qu├ębec doux!
.
I have a bit of 'a thing' with maple syrup, as you might know. It's my favourite flavour in this world, and all the other worlds of which I'm aware. It's hard to believe that some First Nation person discovered maple syrup, likely hundreds or thousands of years ago. He may or may not have been a tree hugger, but he certainly must have necked with a few trees. Or perhaps it was a she hugger? We'll never know. I can't imagine being left alone in the forest, and discovering that a Pepsi sweet substance poured out of a tree. I pity all those suckers who necked with pine, spruce, oak, larch, poplar and hawthorn before discovering the joys of acer saccharum.
.
I like referring to our native peoples as First Nations people. It's much better than calling them Indians. They were called Indians because the idiotic white sailors of five hundred years ago were looking for India when the stumbled upon North America and the Caribbean.
.
'Oh well, we'll call them Indians, anyway'.
.
I can't imagine confusing Bob Marley with Indira Gandhi, but these mistakes were made before the advent of field guides. Bob's knit Rasta hat should have been a dead give away. Even towering turbans aren't that funky!
.
Soon we'll be identifying majestic maples when the red leaves of autumn sweeten our landscape, as in the picture I chose for today's blog. That image was taken in 2005, so don't fret that the trees are already turning...we've got a few weeks of summer left yet. Hopefully.

No comments:

Post a Comment