All things maple

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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.

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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.

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Photo Mar 29, 10 55 06 AM (Large)

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!

Photo Mar 29, 10 59 42 AM (Large)

Photo Mar 29, 10 56 46 AM (Large)

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.

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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.

Photo Mar 29, 11 54 26 AM (Large)

Photo Mar 29, 11 53 54 AM (Large)

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.

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So how would I sum up this sunny Sunday?

Sweet.

 

 

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7 responses to “All things maple

  1. Linda Freyberg

    So fun!!! You do the most creative things! Wish I could enjoy “Mud Season” with you sometime. Let’s put that on our bucket list! (Pun intended). The cat story made me smile, too. Always great copy and pix. xxoo

  2. Now I want pancakes.

  3. Gotta love New England . . . nice pics! πŸ™‚

  4. Sun,and maple syrup,whats not to like!
    Nice post, at least your snow is going!
    Brian

  5. There is nothing like the silver pails hanging on the trees – much more New England than plastic tubing. πŸ™‚ I’ve been to your second stop, and I love the road sign at the top. Here’s hoping the weather picks up for them because they wait so long and work so hard.

  6. I’ve never seen the maple syrup harvesting before — looks like a real cultural event. Thanks for documenting it so beautifully.

  7. I love your pictures, it was like taking a step back in time with the sap buckets, the old time fiddler and musicians and the history of making syrup. That cat is a crack up. What an opportunist!

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