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Fond du Lac Follies...It's time to harvest maple syrup

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columns Cloquet, 55720

Cloquet Minnesota 122 Avenue C 55720

The time to harvest maple sap came and we were ready. By we, I mean the crew: son Joe, son Aaron, nephew Kris and two daughters-in-law, Sara and Jackie. We have been working together for about a decade and I think any one of them can set up their own sugar bush. That was my goal when I invited them all to work with me. The afternoon sun brought warm feelings to us.

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Months before we tap we talk. We decide which trees we will use. This year we found a better place to get the gallon jugs, our drills are still good from last year. We use electric and hand drills to make the holes in the trees. Because of attrition we made some new taps.

The deep snow was a handicap; my brother Vern said he slipped off the trail and sunk into the snow, and the only part of Vern that was showing was his hat. Now that’s deep. My crew had to wear snowshoes most of the time.

In our first boil we began with 110 gallons of sap and when we were done we had four gallons of syrup.

After having the appropriate ceremony, we ate. The syrup was delicious and I am glad we do this every year.     

I think we will have one more boil before we pull the taps to close another successful season.

* * * * *

Along with nephew Kris, Fond du Lac Follies motored to the state Capitol. The event was to rally support for the legalization of cannabis. The people gathered in the rotunda of that huge building, the one with gold horses on the roof. Nathan Ness invited me to say a few words. So I did. I support the legalization of cannabis. As my son said, I outed myself. By the time you read this I will be 71 years old so even death doesn’t scare me.

NORML was there passing out T-shirts, brochures, and posters. I got an extra shirt for my wife.

Cannabis has helped pull me through some tough times.

* * * * *

Fond du Lac Follies motored to St. Cloud State University. Fond du Lac Follies motored away from St. Cloud State University. The less said, the better.

* * * * *

I do not support pipelines, my tribal government likes pipelines because they have 18 million reasons to like them. That is how much the pipeline company paid our tribal leaders. 18 million dollars.

I know of two explosions that happened to the existing pipelines, one was in Ditchbanks and the other was just south of Black Bear Casino.  That one threw rocks and dirt on Interstate 35.

I do not like pipelines.

* * * * *

In one of the most usual projects ever, Trudy Vrieze asked me to be part of a cat calendar she is working on. I know the world is divided into those who love cats and those who don’t. I am one of the don’ts. Someone asked me if I liked cats, I responded with that old vaudeville line. “Sure, I like cats but I don’t think I could eat a whole one by myself.” In spite of that I agreed to the photo shoot. Trudy assured me it was for a good cause — she was raising money for people who care for and neuter cats and dogs.

Sure enough Trudy showed up with her long lensed camera and her husband, Robert. She said she could stop by at the world headquarters of the Fond du Lac Follies on her way home from Fergus Falls, Minn.

We had to borrow a prop cat from my son Joe. I didn’t catch the cat’s name.  I don’t think anyone knew it. Joe and Sara were the cat handlers.  They handed me the cat and I sat on the couch in front of the camera. Trudy wanted a photo of our two faces next to each other. I could feel the cat tense up, he (or she) was getting ready to jump using my chest for traction. I could feel the cat’s claws beginning to dig in.

I knew Oscar Mayer Wiener Dog and Buster Brown Shoes liked cats about as much as I do. For the duration of the photo shoot they were caged and delegated to the basement.

When Trudy thought she had enough photographs to choose from, the handlers took the cat away from me.

I went downstairs to rescue the two dogs from their exile. They both ran upstairs and began sniffing around, they knew a cat had visited, I surmised.

Trudy began shooting photographs of my two handsome dogs. Both went to the front window and leaped up and put their paws on the window sill. They looked photogenic. She agreed. She took some more photographs outside where the dogs cavorted.

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