Monday, April 13, 2009

The taste of maple

Tom Andrews feeds the fires

After Dave left for work yesterday, I fed the sheep and added milk replacer to the sucker bucket for the bottle lambs. All except the last three are on diluted milk and we’ll stop
feeding them replacer in a day or two. But the youngest three bottle lambs are barely three weeks old. It’s hard for me to wean them just yet, even though I know we’d save
money if we did.

Then I headed for the sugar bush. Easter in the woods is always a wonderful day whether it rains or snows, the sun shines or the wind blows. Yesterday, the wind was blowing and the sun wasn’t shining, but the woods protect the sugar camp from the north winds and the fires under the pans of boiling sap warmed us.

We hung Easter eggs from branches, hid them in hollow logs and the roots of trees. Children’s voices rang through the woods as they collected the bright eggs first and then with the help of adults found most of the really well hidden ones. The sound of the ax splitting logs into burnable size pieces of wood beat a counter point to the happy voices

The sap wasn’t running – it hadn’t frozen last night - but the fires were rapidly turning sap to syrup, evaporating off 30 to 40 gallons of water from the sap for every gallon of finished syrup poured sweet, hot and fragrant into the can for Budd to take home and strain and can for the rest of us to use on pancakes, in cereal and bread, and hot, straight up with a coffee chaser for a really decadent dessert.

Even with all the Easter candy and desserts around, the sweetest treat at the sugar bush comes from the maple trees. We drink cold sap for just a light taste of sweetness and spring. We make coffee from partially cooked sap – sweet, hot and highly caffeinated. And when we transfer the syrup from the cooking pans to the can Budd carries it home in, one lucky person gets to use the rubber scraper to clean out the pan and then licks the syrup off the scraper. Nothing perfumes the air better than the scent of hot maple syrup, and nothing satisfies the tongue better than just a taste.

1 comment:

  1. We just finished the jar of maple syrup you sent back with me to Colorado. It's wonderful stuff! Thanks, Pops in CO