Here's the Scoop: March 13, 2013
Reaching the boiling point
I’m not sure how long my Lord of the Sugar Maple Rings series will continue, but I plan on squeezing out every last drop.
You may recall that in earlier installments of my maple syrup making adventure, I began chronicling the anticipation of my family’s initial sap-to-syrup experience. The truth is, you can’t rush these things; thus the unusual multi-column format I’m employing to tell this tale.
And, truth in journalism, by writing about my experience and getting paid to write about it, well, the process is helping to cover the sizeable investment of getting one’s syrup making hobby off the ground.
Ironically, my wife wanted to give away our syrup secrets on Facebook. For free. I, however, am not a fan of commerce without compensation.
“Your 4,826 Facebook friends can pay a dollar for the paper just like everyone else,” I reminded her. “And, they get to read the Police Report in addition to my riveting syrup tale.”
Rumor has it, she didn’t heed my advice. That’s OK, because I doubt she told the unvarnished truth as it appears here.
I’m wondering, for instance, if she described verbatim my outburst when I discovered that my drill kit — which seems to have a bit of everything — didn’t have the 7/16-inch bit, the standard hole-maker in the sugar bush.
When I had calmed down from my not-so-sweet anger fit, I sheepishly admitted that the paper’s owner (the same person who is kindly funding much of our maple operation) had offered me the use of his prized maple-drilling bit.
“You can borrow this, if you stop writing about your maple production (or lack thereof),” he offered.
Oddly, with the cost of the drill bit now also factored into the project, I really have little choice but to continue my series. This stuff ain’t cheap.
Anyhow, the lack of “sugar” maples on our property proved to be a sticking point with the project. Only after hours of walking and observation did I reluctantly agree with my wife’s conclusion (previously filed under “ridiculous” by me), that all of the maples around our house are of the red variety. This temporarily soured me on the sugaring adventure.
“Looks like we’ll have to import our sap from China,” I announced in frustration.
Well, maybe I was exaggerating slightly, but I wanted pure sugar maple sap. With no hassles.
Fortunately, a bit more research revealed that plenty of maple pros mix in the sap from red maples to make their product! It’s not the preferred ingredient, but it’s still fine to use. I was feeling better. I then felt a lot better when we realized that our nearby relatives had some primo sugar maples and said they’d be glad to let us borrow the raw materials in exchange for some finished product. Deal.
Fast-forward. Buckets are up. Warm days have the sap flowing faster than talk-show host chatter. We have perfected a collection method and the sap is in cold storage for a few days.
The fireplace is built. Wood is collected. Next up is boiling. Apparently, this is the true test of patience — and the true measure of success. Or failure.
Our friends across the way are also in the midst of their first syrup making adventure. They have a better attitude than I do.
“This is so much fun!” they keep telling me.
I suppose, in the long run, it will be fun. But, I still need a sweet topping for my beloved French toast. And I don’t mean confectioner’s sugar.
Stay tuned…I almost have the production investment paid off. Oh, yeah, don’t look for the wrap-up on Facebook. To me, the “social” appeal of maple sugaring has limits bordered by metal buckets and the alluring smell of wood smoke. Some might call it fun.
— Brian Sweeney