Monday, March 12, 2012

Maple Syrup

            The magic potion that makes pancakes so sweet.  The liquid gold that French toast loves to soak up.  Waffles catch it in their little nooks and bacon, if it's possible, gets better when slathered in it.  Maple sugar helps applesauce escape boredom.  Maple cream turns toast into breakfast.  And maple candy is just a super sweet sin.
             I am in a maple syrup-induced craze as of late.  It was probably brought on by cabin fever, but I'm not sure, because I have been spending plenty of time outside in the non-winter.  The skies have been a persistent gray, though, so maybe the appearance of the warming sun brought it on.  Work has been a tedious grind in need of some sweetening, too.  And, finally, my daughter has shown an interest in making syrup both for fun and a school project.  So maple syrup has become a focal point, more so than before.
            We have always loved maple products.  I have been known to drag the family on 14 hour drives through Hell or high water across upstate NY and into the Green Mountains of Vermont for the sole purpose of picking up several gallons in different grades of real maple syrup.  We have ventured from sugar shack to visitor center and on to countless roadside farm stands in search of the stuff.  My wife uses it as a breakfast gravy, flooding her plate in a sea of sugary happiness.  The kids devour it in smaller increments, splashing little puddles on their food and then diving in before it can soak in, only to repeat the process a few seconds later.  I use it for everything from BBQ sauce to cocktails, smoking dinner with the wood to flavoring my ice cream.  We have planned vacations around the procurement of the sticky stuff and now we make it ourselves.
            Grandpa sugars with pride.  His creations will keep our mornings happy for months to come.  The kids thrill at tree tapping time.  They escape from the house while the snow still dusts the ground to traipse through the early spring mud and drill holes in our maple trees.  The buckets are hung like Christmas stockings awaiting their treasure.  The smell of boiling sap transforming into syrup is divine.  The family moments that are shared now last throughout year, each time we gather for breakfast and open our syrup bottles.  Somewhere in that dark golden hue is held the love that went into making it or the journey we took to buy it.  Whichever it is, maple syrup sits at the center of our family's table, glowing darkly in the morning sun.

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