Friday, April 1, 2011
Apparently it's a decent sugaring year in VT. The temps went low again, and that means the sap can keep running. Last night we got a text from a friend that he was sugaring, so we put Wumpus to bed, called OPA over to babysit, threw on some coats and went down to see the operation. (Apparently the Dogtor used to clock quality hang out time at this sugar shack in high school.)
The shack looked romantic at night - lights blazing in the small windows, steam flying from the rooftop through the trees. As we got closer to the door, it smelled like cotton candy - not a bad thing.
We slid the shack door open, and were greeted by immense warmth, steam, and the smell of boiling sap. Inside, the friend and his brother were doing what they've been doing every early spring for as long as they can remember - throwing wood inside their giant boiler, drinking beer, checking the filters.
Sugaring, I've realized, is a science and an art. I listened as the friend explained in expert detail the way the sap runs, the way they determine the sugar content (and thus how many gallons of sap they'll need to make one gallon of syrup - somewhere between 40 and 80!), the way the filters and boilers work. Figures of past production and start dates were etched into the walls in pen and pencil. It was, all at once, complex and rustic.
The vat of finished product came out to something like a medium grade amber - a gorgeous chestnut color. The boys generously let us taste a Dixie cup of the stuff...it was delicious, and worth the sleepless night. (Downing a shot of sugar before bed...tsk tsk, pregnant lady!)