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‘Tis The Season! March 4, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, Politics and Society.
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s March here in Massachusetts.

And while it’s March in the rest of the known world, it means something a bit different here.

March is when the warmer days and below-freezing nights cause sugar maples to give it up for We The Peeps.

For centuries now, country folk hereabouts have set out on snowshoes on survivable February days to drill holes in sugar maples, drive in taps and hang buckets:

These galvanized cans haven’t evolves much over the years, though plastic surrogates and miles of piping have made their appearances over the years.

The tapping, though, represents only the tip of the iceberg of effort involved in sweetening our pancakes – there are uncounted cords of wood to be cut, hauled, split and stacked for drying, and once the conditions are right, so many gallons of sap to be retrieved, lugged to tractors or wagons, transported to sugar houses, and boiled over finicky wood fires for days, weeks, sometimes longer.  Forty gallons of sap thus transported yields about a gallon of Liquid Gold, and considering the labor and investment and pre-planning involved, it’s a steal  at $50 per gallon.

So it blows my mind and warms my heart to see it at roadside hereabouts, set out for passers-by to take as they wish and pay for as their consciences dictate:

This roadside barn corner says it all: serve yourself, we trust you.  Last year’s price was $11/pint, and that in the generic plastic jugs, not these gift-worthy glass bottles with ribbons and bows lovingly affixed.  Take what you want, put your money in that little box.

I try to imagine this paradigm being employed in a more urban environment, and come up empty.  We’re not that much different than the urban poor or the urban privileged; we’re just common folk trying to keep our heads and hearts above water from season to season.

The difference, if there is one, is that we see ourselves as being all in this together.  We’re not black or white, red or blue (though if you ask you’ll get an opinionated ear-full,) we’re just neighbors.

This is a big part of why I love it here, and have a hard time conceiving of living anywhere else.


1. lisahgolden - March 4, 2012

Even with the snow on the ground in the photos, this makes me feel warm.

2. TheCunningRunt - March 4, 2012

…As it should, Lisa. The inherent goodness of people is a warming thing!

3. backwater - March 5, 2012

Everything about this is lovely.

4. TheCunningRunt - March 5, 2012

Well, thank you! 🙂

5. jomegat - March 5, 2012

I need to buy more buckets and taps. Last spring I knew of one tappable maple on my place (and I tapped it). Through the summer I explored more closely and found another half dozen. But I still have only one bucket!

I bought some veggies from a self-serve veggie stand last fall. I didn’t have the correct change, so I left a big tip.

6. TheCunningRunt - March 5, 2012

j, the “big tip” is the sign of a neighborly mentality which pervades our world and gets a helluva lot less air time than the thieving scoundrels are afforded. Good on you, and good on us!

And remember, “This ain’t a one-bucket town.” Get a few more, and make the boiling worth your while.

jomegat - March 6, 2012

I priced buckets today and decided… maybe next year. I need five or six more, but at $13.00 a pop (without the tap)… maybe I should just get one or two this year and add another couple next year.

7. TheCunningRunt - March 7, 2012

Slow and steady, j. 🙂

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