Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Hare and the Sugarbush: An Anishinabe Tale

Now comes the time of year when we tell stories about Hare. This is the story of Hare and the Sugarbush.

It was Snowcrust Moon, when days grow longer but cold still lays heavy on the land, and hunger dwelled in the lodge along with Hare and his grandmother.

"Who could have seen it?" said Hare's grandmother one day. "Here I am, an old woman with no relatives left but one no-good, lazy-ass grandson who can't hunt for shit. There's no food left in the lodge, and what are you going to do about it?"

"I'll think of something," said Hare. "Hand me that piece of kindling, would you?"

With his knife Hare carved himself a spill and a plug. Then he took two birchbark buckets and went out.

"Don't come back until you've got something to eat," said his grandmother.

Hare waded through the drifts until he came to a maple tree. On the tree's south side he drilled out a hole with his knife and pounded the spill into it. He hung the bucket from the spill and stood back.

The sugar came out, not like it does today, all thin and watery, but ready to be eaten, as thick and rich as honey. When the first bucket was full, he filled the second. Then he pulled out the spill and plugged the hole with the plug.

The sugar fed Hare and his grandmother for three days, and when it was gone, he got more. In this way they managed to live through the winter.

"This sugar is good food," said Hare. "I give it to the People to be their food forever."

"You can't do that," said Hare's grandmother. "It's too easy. If you give it to the People like this, they'll get lazy and won't appreciate it."

"You're right," said Hare. "Here's what I'll do. I'll thin the sap down with rainwater, so they'll have to gather many, many buckets of sap and cook it down over a fire for a long, long time. Then they'll appreciate the sugar, because they have to work so hard to get it."

And that's how it is to this very day.

The dirty son of a bitch.


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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • tehomet
    tehomet Friday, 20 May 2016


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