Monday, March 28, 2011
Mud and Maple
It is rightfully said that here in Vermont we have six seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Stick, Winter, and Mud. We are currently smack dab in the middle of mud season here and in our family mud means maple sugaring. I spent all afternoon Saturday up at my Uncle Peter's sugarhouse while he boiled off Friday's run of sap.
His sugarhouse is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. When you walk in the door you are hit by the most amazing smell, its a steamy, slightly wood smokey, thick, sweet mapley smell. We all gather around the pan, sharing stories and memories and a few tall tales. The door is constantly opening and closing, bringing old friends and family members. Meanwhile my Uncle Peter steadily works, watching the clear, clean sap become thick amber syrup, while my other uncle stokes the fire.
Between the stories, Uncle Peter teaches whoever is there about what he is doing, how to draw the syrup off at just the right speed so you don't ruin the perfect density, what to look for when its sheeting off the scoop, how to measure how much sap you have left in the tank so you don't scorch the pan. He shares it all because he loves what he does, but through it he has also fostered a love of it for everyone that steps through that steamy door.
Someday I hope to use what he has taught me and create my own little sugaring operation for our little family or be a bigger part of his. Either way, when March rolls around and the sap starts trickling in the buckets, you will find me up at the sugarhouse.
(This year I didn't take any pictures inside the sugarhouse...this year it felt like it was more important to just be there, but I'm planning on going back through some pictures from past years and sharing them here.)