Blog: Dreaming a New Reality
by lfire

Story:Making Maple Syrup

This is a story about time I spent with my Grandfather during Spring, harvesting sap from maple trees and making maple syrup

Date:   5/24/2011 5:34:58 PM   ( 10 y ) ... viewed 17818 times


Spring came late on my Grandfather’s farm...usually long after Easter and into May. The first signs we saw were little green sprouts coming up and little buds on the trees. I would visit my Grandfather in the springtime and I was always thrilled to walk around and have him point out all the little signs of spring.

The biggest springtime event was the sap rising in the big sugar maple trees that were everywhere on the farm. In fact, maple syrup was one of the big money making things that was grown on the farm.

Before leaving to go out to work, we would always stop and talk to the trees, and let the trees know we were coming and let them know we wanted to share their sap to make maple syrup and also so we could help sell some for others to share and make money so we could keep the farm running and care for the plants, trees and animals there.

I would walk around with my Grandfather putting spigots on the maple trees and hanging the buckets to catch the sap. We carried spigots and buckets in a large wheelbarrow so it was easier to have them close to us when we needed them. We would always talk to each tree to ask them permission to share some of their sap before putting in the spigots. Grandfather said that the trees’ sap was like our blood and we wouldn’t like someone just grabbing us and taking our blood without permission! If we felt that a tree said "no" it didn’t want us to share any sap, we would say “thank you for letting us know” and say how we respected that tree, then we would move on to a different tree. The job would take many days of work.

Each day we would check the buckets that were already in place to see if they were almost full. If the buckets were almost full, we would put the covers on them and place them into our wheelbarrow to bring back to the sugar house with us. My Grandfather had a sugar house, as we called it. We would put all the full buckets of sap into the sugar house. When we had collected a lot of buckets of sap we would start the boiling down process. My Grandfather would build a nice low fire under the specially made frame that held a big kettle. We would pour the sap into the big kettle after the fire was going good and was really hot and low. No raging fire! Just low burning, slow cooking was called for.

The sap needed to be stirred so it would not burn. We had a really long paddle-like stirrer that would do the job. Often my Grandfather would sing songs while stirring the sap. When he needed to rest, it was my turn to stir the kettle. This would go on and on. We would take turns stirring for an hour or two, and then let the other person stir for an hour or two. It got really hard to stir in the middle of the night! My uncle who lived across the road would come with his sap as well and take turns stirring the sap.

When the sap was boiled down, we would ladle it into maple syrup cans and seal them up. When one batch was complete we would then start another batch. Often we would have several batches going at the same time. In between, we would have to make sure to collect the sap buckets so they did not overflow! It was quite a feat to do everything at once! Often my Grandfather would have to hire helpers to do the stirring and collecting so everyone could get some sleep! The season was not long so it was important to get as much done as possible.

When the trees would start to tell us that we had collected enough sap for that year, we listened to them as we didn’t want to take the sap that they needed to grow and live well. When we were done with each tree, we would remove the bucket and spigots. We would always thank that tree for helping us and wish it good growing!


NEW for 2015! Snake Dream and Art!


More Stories about my Childhood with Grandfather:

NEW!    Blueberry Time

Spring Song:
          Companion Piece to this story is my poem "Corn Song":



The Five Stones Grandfather teaches me about the Five Stones of Living

The Give Away

Ordinary Day
Grandfather teaches me about being grateful for each day and the "ordinary" things of life.

Grandfather and the Breezes

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