Boiling

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There’s an art and science to making Maple Syrup that I don’t begin to understand beyond the basics. I have never really done it though I have been around folks who do for more years than I can remember. Boiling sap is a Spring ritual in this corner of the world and we do it with gusto.

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What is the dumbest questions you get all day? You know, where you just know if someone asks that one more time you not going to be polite?”

Shy smirk as he glanced at the floor. DSC_9391“They’re not dumb questions really. People who don’t live out here have no understanding and we are happy to educate them.” OK, so he wasn’t going to fess up.

“Well, then tell me, does it kill the trees?”

“Yup, I get that one a lot…”

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I headed to the farm store and cow barn. The expensive SUVs slowly sinking into the mud was stunning. The urge to see myself as snobby-local-chic glimmered in my mind for a moment. Another of the plaid-shirt battalion was greeting families as they shuffled into the barn.  “Anyone has any questions about what you’re seeing here, just ask me!” I caught his eye and leaned in. “I have a quick question. What is the dumbest thing you’ve heard all day?”

He reared back a bit and really looked at me. “They’re just folks, you know. It’s just that they don’t know any better and I figure I’m here to educate them.  But I gotta say these folks don’t think much about foot ware. When a bus load of kiddos from some elementary school from down Mass (down in Massachusetts) arrives and the gals get out with high heels on, I just scratch my head. Where did you think you were coming, the country club?”

Inside, warm smells and fuzzy noses met me. I listened as kids squealed “He Pooped!!” Parents cautioned little ones to watch where they stepped. Um, it’s a dairy barn, there are no boy cows here! I listened to patient farm hands answer for the millionth time what kind of cows these were; the dialog of breeds and crosses, genetic traits and production statistics was a little too in-depth for the families gathered around.

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The second Sugar House was larger. Despite the parking problem, (there was none except down one side of the road) it was laid out to walk the visitor from the collection station to final products. A smoothly orchestrated operation that left the visitor feeling educated and full or at least full of sugar. The evaporator was enormous by comparison to the first house. The tractor-drawn hay ride was ferrying weary day-trippers on the already congested road.

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I snapped a few shots of Plaid Shirt #3 as a group was emptying out. He reached for a bottle of water and I ventured, “You guys are really busy. That’s Great!”

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He winked over the heads of the incoming crowd and replied, “If I don’t get something to eat really soon my pleasant nature is going to go downhill fast.”

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14 thoughts on “Boiling

  1. I love this! I used to make maple syrup at a farm in Westminster every year. It was so much fun. It was a lot of time and work but the end result was worth it!

  2. Looks like a great day! I love the smell of boiling syrup. It does beg the question, who first decided to tap a tree, collect the sap, boil it and use the resultant product? Did they try to tap oak trees first?

    • Laura, only you would ask that, right? I wonder what birch sap would do? Now I am reading about Maple Water – why spend all that energy boiling when you can just bottle the sap???

  3. I have a friend that has a big maple syrup boiling party every year. I want to go visit her some time for it. I think it would be interesting to be involved in.

    • Hi LauraBelle! Thanks for commenting. I am always in awe of the smell and the hard work these folks put in for a short period. It is so refreshing to visit and see it. Hope you take the opportunity.

  4. This looks like fun. Growing up we used to go to a local place where Ribbon Cane syrup was made ( from sugar cane) in the fall. A very small rough backwoods type place – smelled sweet and sour at the same time. Someday I’d like to get to maple syrup country (oh, that candy melts in your mouth)

    • Prices always “go up” as far as I can see. Oh and this fall the foliage will not be up to snuff because the summer will be too rainy, dry, cold, hot (pick your excuse). That said, I respect the hard work that goes into every gallon just as I respect the bees for every jar of honey!

  5. I’ve never really thought about the process of making maple syrup before but Laura is right, I wonder what made the first person tap the first tree and then boil the sap?

Love to know what you are thinking! And thank you for commenting.

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