CHARDON, Ohio - Wally Janoske walked his woods off of Auburn Road in Chardon Township Wednesday morning. Checking one of more than a thousand buckets he's placed on his maple trees he finds sap running at a slow, yet steady pace.
It's a winter practice he has done since a neighbor taught him more than 31 years ago. He now runs Uncle Wally's Sugar Bush, making maple syrup for local residents. He's hoping for his trees to yield a good crop of 2013 maple syrup for future pancake breakfasts on Chardon home's tables. He's also hoping it takes his mind off of the 2012 Chardon school shooting tragedy and its one-year mark.
"We shouldn't forget. We should still remember, but keep doing what we are doing in our everyday lives," Janoske said.
Hard work and living off the land in Geauga County was what Chardon was known for until last year's shooting. For Janoske and his fellow workers, hard work is what heals mental wounds. When asked if hard work relieves a bit of the pressure of a week of Chardon vigils and town events, Janoske laughed, "I think hard work does a lot of that, takes your mind off a lot of that."
Wally's father, Paul, who lived through World War II, where he grew up in Prussia, said time will heal some of the wounds the children in Chardon are feeling now.
"This is fresh. It's like a fresh wound, you know? The stitches, they come out and it starts to heal. I'm speaking of time, you know, eventually there will always be a memory, but we will get over it," said Paul Janoske.
Richard's Maple Products on Route 6 has a western view of the city that is Geauga County's seat. Bulk maple syrup from Geauga County are brought there for sale, or to be made into products for visitors to Chardon.
Vice President of Richard's Jen Freeman said there's still healing to be done by residents and her own employees. But said she quietly enjoyed being on vacation recently and not seeing red ribbons on trees that bring back bad memories.
Her customers still need time, she said, to cope with a small town where things like a school shooting, " just doesn't happen."
"I don't think they've healed yet. I can say for us, today is still an emotional day," Freeman said.
For maple syrup made by Uncle Wally's Sugar Bush call 440-286-6053 or go to: wwwfacebook/unclewallyssugarbush.com
For Richard's Maple Products- 545 Water Street, Chardon, Ohio 44024- go to: www.richardsmapleproducts.com/ or call 800-352-4052