As sweet sap began to drip into buckets hanging from the trees in our yard, there was great excitement about what to expect. It was hard to patiently wait until we had enough sap to boil down ourselves. We were all wondering, how will this work? How long will it boil? What will it look like? What will it taste like from our trees? Will it be the same? All of these questions led us on a neighborhood sugaring tour where we got to see at least a couple of different operations.
There was bigger. Small pipes were running in all directions. Bright pieces of stainless steel sparkled against a backdrop of old barn wood. Fires were glowing as they pushed up steam out and over an old barn roof. Gallons and gallons of sap lay waiting in buckets, barrels and tanks for their chance to hit the fire in what seemed like syrup purgatory. Attendants lovingly poured over fogged up gauges to determine just the right temperature for the most deliciously sweet maple syrup I have ever tasted. Glorious.
And then there was smaller. A short walk out to the woods with old fall leaves crunching underfoot. A gentle breeze blowing up the hillside bringing with it the faint scent of fire that was beckoning the gallons of sap it had been waiting for . No gauges. No pipes. Just sweet maple sap, good conversation and a glowing fire. It was beautiful.
There are certainly sugaring operations going on all over right now producing maple syrup on a scale I'm certain I can't imagine and what we saw certainly couldn't compare to that. But there is something so incredibly beautiful about small. Small feels reasonable. Attainable. When I see our neighbors producing enough to cover their own consumption I think, Yes! This we can do.
And how sweet it will be.