That sap is sure to start running any day now and then we’ll know it’s springtime at last! Talking to the experts around here it seems this prolonged cold spell has meant that the maples haven’t begun to share their sap with us just yet…but that’s going to change soon.
I recently joined two diverse groups of visitors to maple syrup festivals and got a re-education on the wonders of this sugary treasure we harvest each spring.
Seems that the first nations have been tapping maples for time immemorial and since being able to store the syrup was difficult they made it into wonderful crystallized maple sugar that they traded and used to preserve meats. I’ve tasted the dried salmon cured in maple sugar and it is divine.
At the conservation areas I visited, enthusiastic volunteers reenacted the old way pioneers tapped the trees, reduced the sap down to a syrup and then into the blocks of crystallized sugar. Given that the temperature that day was -10 celsius you had to admire the volunteers hardiness…just like the ancestors they were portraying.
The two groups I joined were different in some ways and alike in others…at the one very hilly maple lot they were young school children – squealing with delight even before their sugar fix. Accompanied by caregivers, they were amazed at the process of getting sugar from trees.
The second group were seniors who gathered at a conservation area with a much flatter terrain and many of them were also accompanied by their caregivers …they however didn’t squeal with delight until the pancakes, covered in maple syrup arrived…as did I…a great start to spring.