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A Maple by Any Other Name

Remember how I was weaning myself off of sugar?

Then Lucas appeared, holding a short piece of tapered PVC pipe.

“I’m been using this to tap maple trees and get sap.” He offered me a sample. To my sugar-deprived palate, it tasted like nectar from heaven

“Here you go, have a few pieces of PVC for you to try it.” Oh, Lucas, what have you started? I ran around the neighborhood with a ¾-inch drill, tapping two potential sugar maples as well as our native big-leaf maples. My daily walks gained new urgency to check my dripping trees, and I was dismayed when the bags I was using to collect sap developed tiny leaks.

Still, I got half a gallon of sap the first day. It doesn’t look or taste like much (“Water,” said Daniel, smacking his lips dismissively), but when left to evaporate in a warm oven overnight, we can scrape up maple candy from the bottom of the pan. Two taps in the front-yard maple tree help me monitor how the “run” is going, and how often I should check the other trees. The frosty winter helps, with noticeably more sap on clear days and nights.

Lucas made enough syrup to give a pint to his beloved Senia. That’s the jar in the first picture. During our house lunch, we spooned it over baked squash and added a dollop of butter from Cookie the Cow. Wow.

I tell myself that the sap is loaded with minerals that will surely do us good. Frankly, though, if it didn’t have such intoxicating sweetness, I wouldn’t be working this hard.

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