March 4, 2013


As soon as we bought our house, I told Will I wanted to try making maple syrup. It falls right in line with my desire for bees and chickens and a huge garden and (at some point) sheep or pigs or goats. I remember being fascinated by the descriptions of maple sugaring in Little House in the Big Woods. Of course, I also wanted to try my hand at making a pig bladder balloon. And I have a strange fondness for John Seymour's Guide to Self Sufficiency and all those BBC/PBS live-like-pioneers reality shows. I'm odd like that.

But that was all in theory. In theory we will get tap the trees and buy buckets and build an evaporator. In theory we will sit outside all day on Saturday and boil our sap into syrup. In theory we'll be sending out bottles of our own maple syrup next year for Christmas (with, in theory, our own honey). In reality I have no idea what I'm doing. But the temperatures for the coming week look promising and although I have no evaporator, I have been promised the building of one next weekend. So with a little faith that the evaporator will appear in time, four used buckets and taps and a vague idea on how to identify and tap a sugar maple, we have jumped feet first into sugaring.

Honestly I have no idea if it will work, or even if the trees I chose are the right ones. We could get no sap, we could be overflowing tomorrow morning (and I have not gone to pick up that food grade barrel for holding the sap yet. Eek! So if better not!) but either way, I'm excited. We are all excited. After six months of refusing to buy fake syrup (we live in Vermont! I will not buy it even if they like it) the kids have finally become maple syrup converts and they are just as eager as I am to have our own jars full. And also to try making sugar snow. And maple candy. And to spend hours poking at a fire.

Some day our life seems pretty ordinary. Wake up, take the kids to school, go to work, do the laundry, make dinner, go to bed. Same old, same old. But then on other days it seems quite extraordinary. To think about clearing woods and bees arriving in the mail and sitting around a fire in the snow making maple syrup. To go our and chop wood for the fire and hike through the snow or the leafy paths in summer or to stand in the kitchen cranking out jars of jewel colored jams to fill the pantry shelves. Is it terrible to be so content with life? I hope not.