Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nature Notes: Maple Syrup Season




In February, when the nights remain cold and the days are getting longer, tree sap begins to flow. And that means it's time for a visit to the in-laws' sugar shack for the annual ritual of making maple syrup.

Trees are tapped, sap is collected in buckets and ferried to the shack to be drip-fed into the huge, wood-fired pan that will boil off nearly all of the water. The sap travels to three chambers in order within the pan, becoming thicker as it goes.





It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. This means a round-the-clock vigil of several days to keep the fire fed, to deliver a steady supply of sap to the tank, to monitor levels in the pan to prevent burning, and to draw off the precious elixir at just the right time.





Family and friends gather at the sugar shack to enjoy these simple gifts of nature: the billowing fragrant steam, wood smoke, and sweet syrup fresh from the pan. It is a time to share food, drink and laughter. It is a time of comfort and joy, for if we are all together we can weather any winter. And if the sap is running, spring cannot be far behind.





* Many thanks to all of you who sent condolences on the loss of my husband's dear father. Your thoughts and comments were were a comfort.

11 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Great post and series of photos. I have seen a TV show on the maple process. My neighbors just came home from their ski trip with a jug of syrup for us. The season sounds like a busy but fun time! Thanks for sharing.

Jedediah said...

There's something really satisfying about such rituals that show the passing of the seasons.

Carver said...

Interesting post. Looks like a fun and rewarding task to be involved in.

EG Wow said...

Wonderful post on making maple syrup. I haven't seen any buckets out here yet and now I'm wondering why!

Crafty Gardener said...

There is nothing like the smell of sap making, except for tasting it afterwards.

Linda Myers said...

I would love to do that! Know anyone who'd like a visitor from the West Coast in February?

Libby Rodriguez said...

This is SO COOL!! I didn't know they had sugar maples in Indiana. :)

Rambling Woods said...

Vicki..I am so sorry about your FIL. I wasn't aware of this and I am so sorry your husband and family for your loss....

I loved seeing this post as my Great-grandmother wrote in her journal about the 'sugaring' and it's exciting to see that it is still being done....Michelle

Daryl Edelstein said...

Fabulous post ... and I am glad you are back

Thyra said...

I'm sorry to hear about your husband's father. I wasn't aware. It's a tough time for you.
But it's good to see you back again and it's a lovely post.

Have a nice week-end
Grethe ´)

Celeste said...

Mmmmmm I can almost smell it :) Great post and what a wonderful family tradition.