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 Sugar Bush: An Anishinabe Tale

As nights grow shorter and days grow warmer, the sap begins to run, and it's time for the year's first harvest. And while the Sugar Moon shines, it's time to tell tales of Hare, as we of Great Lakes Country have always done.


Well, nights were growing shorter and days were growing warmer, but in the lodge where Hare lived with his grandmother, the birchbark buckets were empty and the last of the food was gone.

Woe, woe, said Hare's Grandmother.

Woe on an old woman with no relatives left but one no-good grandson who can't hunt for shit. Shame, shame on a worthless grandson who would let his old grandmother starve to death.

She kicked him out of the lodge and told him not to come back until he'd found something to eat.

So Hare took his knife and a birchbark bucket and went out.

With his knife he carved himself a spill. He tapped a maple tree, pushed the spill into the hole, and ho! the sugar came out, thick and good as honey.

He filled his bucket with the thick, good sugar. Then he took it back to the lodge, and he and his grandmother ate all that thick, good sugar.

Day after day they ate the thick, good sugar, and so they came to spring.

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

That's no good, said his grandmother.

If all they have to do is tap the trees and the sugar comes out thick and good like this, the People will grow lazy.

You're right, said Hare, We don't want that. So here's what I'll do.

I'll thin the sugar down with rainwater.

That way they'll have to cook the sap for a long, long time to get the sugar.

It will be a lot of work.

They'll have to gather wood, and keep the fire burning, and stir and stir and stir until they think their arms are about to fall off.

And, wouldn't you know it, that's the way of things to this very day.

So keep stirring, you.












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Tagged in: Hare Ojibwe rabbit
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.


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