As the days get longer and the sun sits higher in the sky, a site unique to the region starts to appear. Buckets or plastic barrels start to appear around the maple trees. Plastic tubing running from the trunks of tree to to these containers wind through the woods. Maple syrup season is upon us.
The process of collecting sap and boiling it down in barns and sheds to the sticky sweet topping for pancakes and waffles begins now. The key, I’m told, is to have cold nights and warm days, which triggers the sap to run. I’m not sure who in history started licking the sap coming out of the maple tree to discover it was sweet, but I do know they’d be shocked at the industry that’s grown around it.
Maple syrup comes in two varieties, the real stuff and the dark brown, mass-produced junk spotted in the supermarket and made by subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies. Look, I’m sure they’re nice people too, but if I’m going to invest in the carbs and calories for syrup, I’m opting for the real stuff. Real maple syrup, like local honey, just tastes better. It also has a lower carbon footprint, isn’t full of additives and preservatives, and supports people in my region. The buckets are a true sign that spring is right around the corner, and I smile when I see them as I drive through New England.