April 27, 2017
Hello again Maple People,
I look out my window on yet another Saturday morning frosted with winter snow…”Can’t we get a single break?”, I think. After all, it’s April 8 and we still want to complement our 2017 maple syrup season but, obviously not today. And then there’s the business of it…it seems every weekend, prime time for retailers, we get a weather situation that keeps folks t’home for one reason or another. Oh well, we Vermont Sugarmakers best not make plans because weather abhors such a thing. Today for instance: Today it’s seventy-four degrees and beautiful. That’s “beautiful” for everyone else but sugarmakers…chalk up another weather-related sugaring disappointment. A couple days of this and the tree buds will swell, changing the chemical makeup of sap, and sugaring’ll be over this year for good….. or bad. And you ask, how do you make a bad situation even worse…well, give us watery sap. Average sap is 2% sugar content but this year it has been more in the 1.5% range. That means it takes sixty gallons of it to make one gallon of maple syrup!
In spite of this report, we have managed to make almost two thousand gallons of syrup and, like all Vermont Sugarmakers, are holding the “Ace in the hole” that next year may be better. This reminds me of a jaunt I made down street the other day where I ran into my friend Raymond. Raymond has spent his life “carrying the world on his shoulders”, rarely having a positive word to say about anything. We met on Main Street and, when I asked him how he was doing, he looked up, barely meeting my eye and said in a tone reminiscent of Pooh’s Eeyore: “I could be consoled Burr…I could be consoled”. Guess that about sums up sugaring ’17…”I could be consoled”!
Regardless of the challenges of this sugar season, we had some interesting visitors. One couple, in particular, traveled from Israel. The distinguished looking folks were quite enthralled with the fragrance and ambiance of our rustic setting. Their accents were as thick as the steam in our sugarhouse and their questions were many. The gentleman seemed particularly focused on a bottle of maple bourbon he had bought while in Vermont, telling me several times that I must try it. Although I said I would, my thoughts went in an entirely different direction: “Maple’s as good as it gets…you can’t make it better”. My intention was to prove that point as I handed the man a small amount of fresh, hot syrup in a cup. He gladly accepted and carefully put it to his lips. Instantly a radiant look took over his entire being. He lifted his face heavenward and exclaimed “Zis iss eet, zaa taste off zaa bourbon!”. At once I knew two things: that I would not convince him Vermont is not known primarily for its bourbon, and that the bourbon “recipe” surely included real maple!
Yes, Vermont maple is blessed with great “value-added” products and sweet entrepreneurship, and it all starts with that taste, that heavenly taste of pure maple right off the evaporator. I am indeed consoled!