Aldo Leopold wrote:
"There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
I would add that a third spiritual danger is never experiencing "real" maple syrup, especially syrup made by one's own hands, from one's own trees.
We have taken it upon ourselves, over the last couple of years, to utilize this resource, readily available on our property. Many would say it's foolish endeavor, when you can just as easily go to the grocery and buy yourself maple (flavored) syrup, very cheaply i might add. But Lorrie and I eschew high fructose corn syrup, which is an almost impossible pursuit given that we are all nearly swimming in the stuff. That, and we are just generally into these kinds of life pursuits.
Here in Indiana it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. We are by no means large in our maple syrup production. I tap, on average, 20 trees or so. You can see by the picture above I just use a gallon jug with a plastic hose attached. We usually ask friends to save jugs or us. It doesn't take too many. Maybe 30 at most. I had almost enough on hand for this year when one of my co-workers from last year called me and ask if I needed any jugs. I hadn't spoke with him in over a year and was surprised he remembered. I said "sure" we can always use some. He came up the following weekend. He arrived in a van, packed FULL of jugs. OMG!
There was over 100 jugs! I thanked him,,,but my gawd. Needless to say we will be making a trip to the recycle center in the near future. Note to self: be sure to remember that some people take things way too literally.
Last year I tapped trees the day after we got back from Vieques, makes for a very short season. This year, due to our absence on island, I began tapping trees the last week in January. So on the debit side of things we've given up our Feb Vieques trip, but on the credit side we've netted about a gallon of syrup. And I was really hoping for a record setting maple syrup harvest this year. What I got was Vieques calling to me, some 3k miles away?
When one usually thinks of sugar season you visualize cold overnight temps and sunny days. Maybe a blanket of snow. You definitely don't think of overnight lows in the 50's and highs approaching 70. But that has been the case here for the last week (which would have been our last week in Vieques on our normal Feb trip. Feb high temperature records are being smashed across the middle of the country. Obviously this kind of heat has killed the maple sap run. Maple syrup season is over for the year and it didn't last very long.
Not that I mind. This is really helping us get through this winter. That and all my great friends, who are now on island. I am fortunate that they have been keeping me inundated with photos and experiences.
Bill and Joy, who threatened to come to Indiana and "drag are asses" to Vieques when we told them we wouldn't be there this year.
One of the first pictures they sent me was when they were waiting in SJU to fly over to Vieques. I think they were hanging out at the same little bar Lorrie and I do. And of course, they've got a couple Medallas in hand. A right of passage that let's you know for sure that "yes, indeed, we've made it."
One of their first sunsets on island. How can you ever get tired of seeing that?
Wasn't long before they met up with Dave and Andrea. One of the beautiful things about Feb in Vieques is the same great people are always there.
I had ask them to toast a Medalla to Lorrie and I, while they were on La Plata. And that they did. You can see the gallery way in the background, all set up and curated by Judy and Andre. Doesn't get any better.
Joy and Bill brought along a new shelter for the beach this year:
As did Dave and Andrea:
Dave sent me a photo of the gallery, cause he knows just how much I enjoy it:
Big thanks once again to my friends on island.