My first ever birch tapping session with friend and baby in a quiet wood atop a hill, a feral place with the remains of a small polite fire showing others had used this space for another illicit communion with nature. I say illicit because it is very difficult to find anywhere that will give permission for any sort of interaction involving harvesting from nature, or sleeping there, despite this being essential for deriving any feeling of belonging to the natural world.
As i slowly drilled into the thick old bark of the biggest birch i could find, with nothing more than a corkscrew, the clear life source began to run and with a shock i realised the tree was alive. You may laugh, you may say “but of course” however its one thing to be told trees are living creatures in a static textbook and to look at them hazily in the background of country walks and pictures…but quite another to feel the wetness of their pulsing life as it rushes upwards feeding buds and leaves that are getting ready to unfurl, and to feel it on your tongue and the vitamins and minerals pouring down your throat and clearing your system of impurities.
After wondering why the taps (drinking straws) didnt seem to go right into the holes, my carpenter friend told me that drills remove the wood from the hole and corkscrews, despite looking a lot like the birch drills you can buy, do not. So i felt quite silly. After id tied the drinks bottles securely on under the taps we left. So now to go and collect the sap and stop up the holes with wax to prevent infection.