We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Vermont friends have been busy getting ready for sugarin.' We tend to think of Vermont maple syrup, but Canada is the major producer. We consume it abundantly in New England and do not approve of the cheap substitute goop in the supermarkets. We buy Maple syrup by the gallon.
I know folks that still own sugar bush and they have some great old photos of the old aunts and uncles out in the bush with the big wooden sleds. I lay in a goodly supply of the real thing whenever I can but maple syrup does not last long around here as we pour it into a glass and drink it like water.
Upstaters buy it from The Cedarvale Maple Syrup Company and have it with pancakes from New Hope Mills...
Being a Westerner I had the impression that the merry folks of New England would tramp through snow drifts carrying their buckets of sap to the sugar house. After moving to New Hampshire I was shocked to learn that maple sap now is collected by attaching plastic tubes to the tap and then snaking them down the hills into giant plastic vats.
Sugarin', as it is called by the locals, is as near a sacred rite du printemps, or sacred anything found in Vermont, and one practiced these days by more and more backyard sugarmakers with a few sugar maple trees.
There is a whole ritual associated with the process, and all ages can participate, so it can truly be called a family endeavor and enterprise. Starting with the "tapping out" in early February, and then the first flows in early March, depending on the exposure of your "Bush".
When enough sap is collected the boiling begins and, when boiled down sufficiently, it is time to "sugar off". Also a term used by old-timers at estate settlement time as in "Everybody thought ol' Ira was destitute but by God he had a few bucks in the bank when they sugared him off!"
The immediate reward comes in the form of a sugar -on- snow party right at the sugarhouse, served with freshly made donuts, fresh syrup poured over snow, and a nice sour pickle to offset the sweet. Doesn't get much better than this up in ol' Vermont after another long wintah!
Down here in South Texas I like it on my grits, I like it in my sweet potatoes, winter squashes, pecan pie, (don't tell anybody about that last one, they might think it is sacrilege) and flavoring a whole lot of other goodies.