New Hampshire sugar shacks fired up their evaporators this weekend and opened their doors to the public for Maple Weekend 2015. There was a long list of participating sugarhouses throughout the state, so today I chose one not too far from here and took a Sunday drive under brilliant blue skies.
This particular farm, about an hour away, was set amid a network of dirt roads. They had horses, chickens, two golden retrievers, and the friendliest cat in New Hampshire. The young woman who was boiling the sap said in a good year they do about 125 gallons of syrup, but because of the very cold weather they’ve done just a fraction of that this year. With a window of only 5-6 weeks, losing even one week’s time can put a big dent in the production.
With the goal of educating the public on how maple syrup runs from tree to table, the process was explained to the onlookers in the sugarhouse and we were offered maple doughnuts, sugar-on-snow, and taste-testing. All were approved!
Now loaded up on sugar, I made my way back to the car and came across the previously mentioned friendly cat. In fact, he was so friendly that after a few head-pats he assumed he could go home with me.
I think not, kitty. Had a heck of a time getting him out of the car.
The next stop was completely unplanned; I found the next sugarhouse as I was making my way back to the main highway. It was also in a highly unusual place: directly across the street from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway! (I suppose it’s a great spot to be selling maple products to the tens of thousands of tourists who flock here several times a year.) This was actually more of a gift shop, but they were boiling sap in the back room with a huge, shiny-new-looking evaporator. In the front, though, was live music and a crowd of people.
My third stop was our local sugar shack, just around the corner from where I live, and still my favorite. Many generations of the same family have collected and boiled sap off their land here. I stopped for photos only – I love the sight of the hundreds of silver sap buckets hung from the stick-bare trees amid the snow and mud, and the sound of the drip-drip-drip hitting the metal. It’s the classic image of spring (or, as they like to call it here, Mud Season) in New Hampshire.
So how would I sum up this sunny Sunday?