Friday, February 17, 2012

Sugar Season

Nearly a month ahead of normal - Sugaring has begun around here. Sugar Houses have that sweet steam pouring out of the vents and the collection tanks near the road edges are nearly full. If you go up to the metal collection buckets, there's the tinny plink-plink of the sap hitting metal after they've been emptied.

It's a short walk to our neighbor's who is the last of generations of farmers who have tapped the trees, on this land that used to make up the old dairy farm where we live, since before the Revolutionary war. So it's with anticipation and a sense of gratitude to share that connection with this place for one more year that we all go over there. It truly is alchemy - taking the sap and cooking it and cooking it some more - to make the sweet, smoky syrup that we have grown to love intensely and use for so much more than pancakes and waffles.

Inevitably, there's our neighbor fueling the fire from wood that has been artfully stacked offering us that first sip of the season's sugar when we poke our heads into the steamy, atmospheric shed. It always comes in a little Dixie cup - a humble vessel for such sublime food. An espresso shot of this land's chi.

I love the time it takes to make the syrup. I love that there's no telling when the sap will start running. I love that it befuddles science and predictions and plans. Once it starts, you have to be there or you miss it. Where so much of our lives have been engineered for convenience, this is not convenient. I'd argue that that's why it tastes so good and satisfies me so profoundly.

Thanks to all our Maple Sugar makers.

sugaring yoke


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