SoCS: sap

I have lived in the Northeast United States for my whole life and soon my thoughts will turn to sap.

Maple trees are plentiful here and are often used for maple syrup production. The sap flows in the spring and is tapped, usually now with lines rather than with spigots and covered buckets as it was done traditionally.

At least, it used to be done in spring when I was a child. What you need for a good flow of sap is days above freezing and nights below freezing. This used to be early spring weather, but now, with climate change and increased volatility of weather, those conditions sometimes happen as early as February.

February is not spring.

Some years, the sap starts to flow in February, but then it gets colder again and stops. If we are lucky, it stops before the trees actually start to bud as the cold weather can then damage the buds and affect the tree for the year.

When I was a child, we used to go to a local sugarhouse during sugaring off and watch as they evaporated the water out of the sap to leave maple syrup. I always liked the lighter, more delicate syrup. The sugarhouse had an attached dining room where you could order great pancakes and waffles, which were served with fresh syrup. Then, my sisters and I would order sugar-on-snow for dessert. They would bring us cake tins full of snow and a pitcher of warm maple syrup. We would drizzle it over the snow and it would instantly congeal into a candy which you could pick up with a fork. You could sometimes even twirl it around the fork like spaghetti. It was delicious, but super sweet, so they would serve it with homemade dill pickles, which were also really good.

It has been many years since I had sugar on snow, but I always keep a supply of real maple syrup at home. I refuse to eat “pancake syrup” which is usually just corn syrup with some maple flavoring thrown in.

In my area now, I usually buy maple syrup from a farmers’ market rather than directly from a sugar house. When I go back to Massachusetts or Vermont, I will sometimes buy syrup there to bring home. Right now, I have a gallon that was made in B’s hometown and about twelve miles from my hometown.

It’s all good.

I do worry, though, about the future of our sugar maples. They are stressed by climate change and the range of the trees is moving north. In the coming decades, we may need to import our maple syrup from Canada. I’m sure it would be as delicious, but probably in short supply, which would be very sad.

I’ll savor my maple syrup all the more now.
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Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and/or Just Jot It January! This week’s prompt was sap/sep/sip/sop/sup. Today’s pingback link is here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/04/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-5th/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

14 thoughts on “SoCS: sap”

    1. Definitely! There was a story a few years ago about thieves stealing maple syrup from the Canadian syrup reserve. They covertly drained it from the storage barrels and replaced it with water to cover their tracks. It was worth a lot of money. But the greater treasure is the tradition dating back to the First Nations of relationship with nature.

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  1. I’m with you about maple syrup. Nothing else compares. I get it at the farmer’s market or at the Amish store. Mind boggling about the maple syrup thieves. Troubling that climate change is putting the trees at risk 😦

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  2. Its funny how we like things we grow up with. I don’t like maple syrup as to me it is too sweet. Weird, I know. Sugar is sugar. I grew up with cane sugar syrup that comes only from the region of very south Ga and very north Fla where the soil is a good mix up sand and clay. You can’t find the true stuff anymore, it now has fillers or made with the bark which gives it a bite and dark color. Fun memories.

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  3. I’m not a native New Englander but am here now. We wrote of similar things today, at least in part. I adore maple syrup. I’ve also heard about the start of the season getting pushed into late winter. I don’t remember if it was the clear A type of syrup that is being affected (reduced amounts) or another kind, or all of the grades. I do know it is deeply concerning. I’ve also read where several species of critters that normally hibernate during the winter, or have winter coloring (like they turn white) are also not doing well around here.

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    1. It is scary that these changes are noticeable over just a few decades. Certainly not enough time for plants and animals to evolve or adapt to new circumstances. I hope you enjoy your time in New England. Even though I have been in New York for most of my adult life, I still cherish my New England roots and my visits there.

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  4. Ah so I was not making stuff up when I wrote about real maple syrup. I knew it and you confirmed it … “pancake syrup” is usually just corn syrup with maple flavoring. I want to try the real deal one of these days.

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