September 30, 2009

Short story # 1—The Making of Maple Syrup

As a small boy, every Easter vacation, we (uncles, aunts, cousins. . . )gathered at my grandparents home on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota to make Maple Syrup. The first day we would move through the woods, drilling holes into each Maple tree, pound a spiget into the hole and hang coffee cans to catch the sap.
The following days, wearing a long yoke with large buckets on each end, we gathered the sap which was then poured into large barrels. A 'sap pan' was placed over a long fire pit, filled with sap and over 2-3 days and many gallons of sap, boiled to, maybe, five gallons of thick syrup. This was taken to the kitchen and carefully boiled down to Maple Syrup and bottled in Mason jars. This process repeated several times.
Some of the syrup was boiled down to make, sweet, delicious, Maple candy. My brother and me would go out on the lake, which was in midst of a thaw, and get 'hunks' of ice, take the thick syrup, pour it over the ice, making sweet, hardened, maple strings that we would eat.

Each summer, from a little shack down by the highway, we sold the Maple Syrup along with rugs, baby and doll clothes and several other things that were produced by the scattered family during the winter. My grandmother got up early every summer morning and made fresh donuts for sale. I remember, going to the lake each summer and 'manning' the small shack by the highway.

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