Monday, March 29, 2010

Sugar Shack USA

Welcome to the north country! This time of year is wonderful! Just drive around the back roads with your windows open and breath in the smell of maple - syrup that is. Amber gold!

D and I visited the Orebed Sugar Shack, out in Dekalb Junction, this past Saturday. What an operation! The boiling of the sap down to syrup the old fashioned way was the most enjoyable part to me as it reminded me of my childhood.

One year my folks and our neighbors tapped the big maples that used to line the road I grew up on and built a makeshift sugar shack. I remember tasting the sap as it dripped into the metal buckets. It was so sweet and my brother and I had to scramble away before our dad caught us messing with the buckets!

I always loved maple syrup, but it was Aunt Jemima's I craved, not some homemade stuff. I wanted the syrup that came from a bottle that talked on tv! I had no idea what "real" maple syrup was until that year we boiled it down.

They started boiling early in the day in a large pan over a coleman camping stove. We ran and played most of the time but as it grew darker and colder, we moved closer to the fire. The mixing was constant and the smell was amazing. For the rest of my life there will never be a better aroma than that specific maple syrup cooking down. Smelling it at the Orebed Sugar Shack brought it back to me and hit me square in the gut, but it still wasn't THAT smell.

I think the memory is made that much more poignant by the fact that even though my dad is no longer with us, I can see him smile remembering that time, those scents, those friends, that camaraderie. For a few moments those memories were so close to the surface I could almost touch them.

I bought some candy and some maple cream, spoke to a future Maple Princess, and made a promise to come back again. So, thank you Jeff and Lori Jenness family for making my winter a little warmer for a little while. You not only make maple products, you make memories.

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