We spent Wednesday afternoon at Julie and Charly's sugarbush. It was warm, sunny and smelled like wood smoke and maple syrup. All in all, a glorious afternoon and evening. I grew up in Minneapolis and my experience with syrup involved a plastic bottle, shaped like a kind, matronly lady named Mrs Buttersworth. We had 'real' maple syrup at home but the über sweet syrup from the missus was my favorite. Fast forward 35 years to a bucolic piece of property near Lake Superior with buckets attached to spigots in trees- this is where 'real' maple syrup come from?? A revelation- sap from trees boiled (or evaporated) into syrup. I have to admit, I did know where syrup came from prior to my sugarbushing afternoon. However, this was my first opportunity to be a sap hauling cog in the syrup making machine. As I was emptying the buckets, I thanked the trees for sharing with us.
Of course, there was food. I brought a few of my favorites- Irish cheddar, Fromager d'Affinois, smoked salmon and chorizo from Northern Waters Smokehaus and prosciutto. The kids ate all the bread while we were hauling the sap but I was able to find a little piece in the bottom of the bag. Julie made chicken and wild rice soup (delightful), warmed up over a fire the kids made. We drank a little beer, ate good food and watched the sap transform into syrup.
The sugarbush is timeless. I was struck by the generosity of the trees, the elemental nature of sap turning to syrup and the blessing of friendship. The effort that goes into producing a quart of syrup is formidable but it is the effort that makes it special. In my mind, absolute perfection.