Sunday, March 28, 2010

Oh How Sweet It Is

Oh! Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble goes the pan,
Furnish sweeter music for the season if you can,
See the golden billows, watch their ebb and flow.
Sweetest joys indeed, we sugar makers know
(Chorus of "Maple Sweet" an early nineteenth century New England folk song -- sung by the musicians at one of the sugarhouses I went to this weekend.)

Well, I'm happy to report that the 27th Annual Maine Maple Sunday/Weekend was sweeter than ever.

On Saturday a.m., I grabbed my rubber boots (and my down jacket!), my littlest child (her first Maine Maple Weekend!) and one of my closest friends and went to my "usual" hang out for sugar house festivities--Goransan's Farm in Dresden.

The yummy smells of breakfast cooking and Hope Hoffman's fiddle music lured us in from the cold into the greenhouse where we dined on the farm's to-die-for pancake breakfast complete with local sausage, potatoes (from their garden), local apple cider and organic coffee. Oh, and pancakes with fresh maple syrup, of course!

(On a side note, a few years ago the farm's barn burned down and a barn raising fundraiser was held. The pancakes served at this fundraiser were made by neighbors -- and they were such a hit that the mix was then packaged and sold. In fear they may stop making it, we have a stash of the mix in our freezer.)

With full tummies and some socializing under our belt, we then poked around in the sugarhouse for a bit. Every year I am so pleasantly reminded of how wonderful these sugarhouses are -- they boast a steamy sweet and woody smell that is just so soothing. It occurred to me that some clever marketer (hmm) might start offering the "Maine Maple Spa Retreat"as a high-end spa treatment -- it is just THAT good.

On Sunday (I know, I know, one would think one day of this would be enough, eh?), I dragged some of my extended family to two sugarhouses in Gorham, Maine. At each of these sugarhouses we checked out their syrup-making techniques and sampled the goods...syrup over ice cream. YUM. And, of course, we stocked up on many maple treats, including maple syrup, maple sugar, maple coated almonds -- even maple smoked cheese. The highlight of the day? It is hard to choose, but I THINK it was watching my mom who had been ever-so-reluctant to go along on this adventure...and somehow has never been to a Maine Maple Sunday (is she really my mother!?!), step out of the car and immediately get into the spirit. With pockets full of her maple purchases she said with a big smile, "another sugarhouse?"

As I'm coming down from this great sugar high, I must say the real treat in this whole weekend is to remember how lucky we are to have people who carry on the syrup-making tradition. It takes a whole lot of work to make just a little bit of syrup. (Honestly, I could devote several blog entries to the syrup making process, including all the interesting factoids such as the fact that it takes a cord of wood to make 30 gallons of syrup.)

Trust me, despite the high cost of the good stuff, no one is getting rich making syrup. But, our world is richer for it without a doubt.

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