Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saps' Rising . . .

When daily temperatures start to rise above freezing - then drop several degrees below zero at night - the sap starts to rise. It's time to start tapping!

Sugaring time in the North. For those who love this time of year a tongue-tip taste of fresh maple syrup is a sacrament - maple communion at the end of a long winter. To ingest the distilled essence of the trees confers the spirit of the forest itself.

In the sugarhouses, however, discussions grow a bit more coarse then your typical mass as sugar-makers debate how long the season might last. "Ask me again in April" should be the standard reply because any attempt to forecast sugaring successes or failures are futile - the duration of sap runs and sugar content are entirely dependent on the weather and factors peculiar to individual trees. 

Sugaring requires hard WORK. 

Most producers can’t wait to tap by late winter. But once the sap starts “Runnin’ like Hank" and the low-quality late season sap supply exceeds that of the firewood required to boil it, many producers confess they can’t wait to wash up. An old-timer once told me: "When the Lord made men for maple sugaring, he first give ‘em a spine of steel… then took out half their brains!"

Anyway you look at it winter’s end is reason fair enough to celebrate! Why else would otherwise rational people boil tree sap all night long in backyard contraptions?

I can’t say if maple madness is a symptom of spring fever… or the ultimate antidote!

Ward Allen died at the peak of his fame and accomplishments in 1965. Ward played with Wilf Carter, appeared on the Grand Ole Oprey and had a radio show with Frank Ryan on CFRA in Ottawa Canada

He left behind an amazing legacy of fiddle music that is still being loved and performed to this day. Hope you enjoyed his rendition of Maple Sugar as much as I do!

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