Everything around here is still looking pretty sere, and if it weren\’t for the birds and the peepers and the occasional mosquito, we could still be in early March. But the sap is running in the sugar bush, and it\’s sugaring time.
In these parts, \”sugar bush\” means a stand of sugar maples, the kind that get tapped in the spring and yield Vermont\’s golden crop, maple syrup.
Driving around the frost-heave-filled roads at this time of year you can see miles of blue plastic tubing going from tree to tree, and ending in a big barrel. If you\’re lucky, you can see a sugar bush that is still being tapped the traditional way, with buckets topped with little slanted covers to keep stuff out of the sap.
Buckets and barrels, when they are full, are carted to the \”sugar house\”–typically a little shack behind the barn. There, over days and nights of patient boiling, the sap is reduced to syrup. It takes forty gallons of sap to make a single gallon of syrup. Think of that the next time you pour the stuff on your pancakes, and be sure to thank the maple faeries who keep watch over the sugar bush.