Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Spring is on its way here. I know this because one of the annual rites of spring in western Massachusetts is the running of the sap. (It is nothing like the running of the bulls.....) For the couple weeks preceding when farmers "think" spring should be here, trucks are parked all along the dirt roads. There is never a person in sight but I have come to know that's because the farmers are up in the woods, hooking up their taps to their gravity fed sap lines. It's a very busy time of year for maple farmers. They work long hours for about six weeks - collecting the sap and then boiling it into the wee hours of the morning.
On Sunday, Julia begged to visit Williams Sugarhouse in nearby Deerfield. You can't live in these parts without at least one late winter visit to a "sugar shack." We partook in the blueberry pancakes.
Williams is an old-fashioned place with the huge boiler out in the back room. There are always a bunch of men there standing around, tending the sap so it doesn't burn.
Here you can see the steam from the evaporating sap.
They had a lovely collection of antique molds the family used to use for maple candy.
Gone are the days of buckets hanging on trees although once in awhile we see them. I promise a photo of this quintessential New England scene later this week. You can learn more about sugaring here. This "rite of spring" is definitely worth a visit if you live outside Boston or Hartford. It can't help but warm your heart and tummy to visit a sugarhouse.....