News from Vermont #292 - Perfect Pictures

August 7th, 2013

Hello again Maple People,

My wife often says "we've lived too long in this world". What she means is the world is changing too fast and we're not "keeping up", nor do we really want to. Y'see old age'll do that...we get stuck in our ways. To use a cussed modern phrase, we've got a "double whammy" goin' on in that department: We're old and we're old Vermontahs; both qualities find us wearing the good ol' days like a badge.

The other day I was showing a young lady who works for us how to couple an empty quart berry basket to a full one and turn them over. "It's an old 'Indian trick'" I said, "and a great way to check the berries on the bottom to make sure they're alright.". I puzzled over her look of consternation: Was it because I'd used a phrase totally untranslatable to her generation, or was it that I'd used the word "Indian", talk deemed by them, derogatory? Not wanting to "open up a can of worms", I let the subject drop. A few days later, I had the opportunity to do some fact-checking. While on a business trip in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, I stopped to visit Ralph Swett, a good friend of mine and full blooded Abenaki. Sitting across from Ralph at his kitchen table, I asked the question: "Are you offended when someone calls you an Indian?". He said no quicker'n a whistling arrow and went on to describe his heritage. "The Indians were very spiritual people" he said. I sensed our common wavelength...America today could sure use less "political correctness" and more spiritualism!

These days it seems the generation "gap" is more like the Grand Canyon. It's never more apparent than a walk down any "Main Street USA" where young people sport hair that's all colors of the rainbow and wear rings in weird places. They also talk at two distinct volumes, either silently by "text" or loudly with an infusion of "f-bombs". Back in the day, swearing was much more subdued but, as I recently found out with one of my writings, could still make a hell-of-an-impression.

I had just sent out one of my email stories where I had used the words "damn" and "hell" in order to lend accuracy and flow to some Vermont dialogue (in my opinion, the difference between "cuss" and "swear" is that cuss words are "printable" in the public press and swear words are not). A few days later, however, I received the following message by email from Rhonda in Kentucky: "Mr. Burr, I wanted an email about your happenings in Vermont, but I find your language a lot to be desired. Do you always talk like that?". Shocked, thinking of the f-bombs, I wrote back to her: "To answer your question about my language, yes I do always talk like that. I'm sorry that you are offended but, you see, if you want 'happenings in Vermont', you gotta take a few minor cuss words 'cause that's how real Vermonters leave 'em out would be like eatin' pancakes with Log Cabin instead of my maple syrup and I bet you like my maple syrup!". In her reply, she cited the Bible and in no way let me off the hook..."But now put off all these:...filthy communication out of your mouth.", Col. 3:8.

At that I "rested my case" and in a way, agreed with her...if I can't tolerate modern kids' "f-bombs", why should I expect her to tolerate my "damns"? I will, however, keep writing about old "Vermontahs", right down to the way they talked. I'll also try a little harder to understand kids these days because we are, indeed, living in the same world. And for Rhonda, I'll close with another Bible verse: "Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!", Psalm 133:1.

There are only a few things that stay the same as generations go by and maple syrup is certainly one of them. Yup, we're still boiling down 40 gallons of sap for every single gallon of pure maple syrup we make. We're using the same sugarhouse that my grandfather used...heck, we're using trees that are 200 years old! Our syrup is 100% pure and is much better for you than "supermarket" syrup. It gets the same rave reviews in your home as it does in the homes of your gift recipients. Really, the only thing that has changed is the ease of gettting it...just go to to order some!