We did a little sap boilin' yesterday. Normally, we save the boils for the weekends, when we can gather with friends, and make a proper and full day of it. Because, you know, it requires lots of people sitting around, watching the pot boil, to make good syrup. Good company helps, good food is a bonus, and some of us declare that hot cocoa or whiskey are required too. Naturally.
This season, I'm sorry to report, is turning out to be a bit of a wash in the Maple Syrup world. It's been such a mild winter, and now the night temperatures aren't getting cold enough to keep the sap flowing up and down the trees, as it needs to in order to really run. We're getting a bit, we've already bottled some, and there's a little bit more to come surely, but it is nothing like last year's flow. For those whose liveliehood depends upons sugaring, my heart aches a little, and hopes for a better year next year.
For us, whose backyard operation is purely for fun, connection, and just a little bit of food production...we'll be just fine. Because, truly, half of the joy and pleasure in syruping - for us anyway - comes with the acts of syruping itself: the reason to trudge around out there in the late winter air as we tap the trees; the daily walks to collect sap on snow-covered trails; and most definitely, these very precious hours spent sitting around a silly little woodstove under the woodshed in our backyard - laughing, talking, singing, chopping wood, donning goggles, and drinking cup after cup of the warm sap. That's really what it's about for me - for our family. The result, of course, is a very sweet treat at the end of it all. And hopefully, we'll have just enough gallons at the end of it all to carry that sweetness on into the months ahead.