I like a little pancake with my maple syrup, how about you? It’s delicious and one of my favorite sugars. New England living has me spoiled by the local sugar houses delivering their syrup to our grocery stores. I willingly spend the extra few dollars to buy their maple syrup because it tastes fantastic and supports the local producers.
Last month I heard about a maple syrup festival in a neighboring town. I wanted to show the kids how maple syrup was made and thought this could be a great way to do it. So on a chilly March morning, we grabbed the kids’ winter gear and drove 30 minutes to the festival. I thought the sun would warm the cold air enough to have fun. Excitedly we talked about the foods we would try at the festival and how cool it would be to see maple syrup being made. After arriving, we were shocked to feel strong gusts of icy wind blowing. We walked quickly to the first place we could buy warm food. Our gloved hands froze and our teeth chattered as we ate our freshly fried funnel cakes drizzled in hot maple syrup.
“Is this really worth it? The wind chill is 16, Kristin. It’s really cold.” Leave it to my husband to state the obvious. Reluctantly I agreed that no, it was not worth it, but requested we drive by the sugar house on the way out of town.
After racing back to the van to escape the frigid weather, we drove a mile to the local sugar house. It was a quaint little barn behind a home in an extremely muddy driveway. The first thing we noticed were metal buckets attached to maple trees. The buckets were collecting sap from the trees drop by drop. It takes a day to collect a gallon of sap from a maple tree and it takes about 30-40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup after it’s boiled in the sugar boiler. The kids looked at the bucket slightly unimpressed. We sloshed through the mud to the sugar house where the boiler was located. The sugarhouse felt nice and warm because the boiler produced so much steam. It was a wonderful contrast to the outside air. (Did I mention it was COLD?!) Again, my kids were not impressed at all. They just wanted to try some syrup and maple candy.
So maple popcorn in hand, we decided to call it a day. Between the lack of interest from my family and the freezing weather, the trip was a flop. However I did get to teach my kids that people work hard to make the delicious maple syrup we excessively pour on our pancakes. I’ll call that a small win.