Our wonderfully active and energetic 80-year old neighbor just showed up at our door with two quarts of beautiful golden-brown jars of maple syrup. They are just heavenly! Tomorrow will be blueberry pancake day, for sure.
I am sometimes amazed at life out here in the country. All the ways that people glean harvests and comfort and good living from the land. I walked over to the edge of our property, where our neighbor's maple trees sit, and took some photos of his set-up. Simple, yet magnificent. As the wintry days slowly grow warmer and warmer, and the sap starts to run through these magnificent trees, a small tap or two in their trunks can steal gallons upon gallons of the sweet liquid without harming the trees (of course, only if done properly!).
I found a great article that reveals more than I could ever hope to know about making maple syrup. I love the long winding lines of blue tubing trailing out of my neighbor's maple trees, like some eerie stethoscope pulsing the lifeblood of the trees, and flowing into a giant garbage can (the collection barrel) lined with plastic (to keep it sanitary). My neighbor comes around and uses a small battery-operated pump to move the sap from the collection barrel into drums in his truck. He then delivers it to an Amish family, who boils and boils and boils the sap until more than 35 gallons has produced a mere quart of yummy, gooey maple syrup.
I am thankful for these two quarts, and thankful that I know how much work went into making it. Not just by my neighbor, who spent all those hours collecting all that sap so that we could enjoy our pancakes, but also by the trees that make such a heavenly liquid, and are able to lend us a bit of their creation. It's funny, living close to nature has taught us where our food comes from, and made us so much more appreciative of the tiny miracles (like maple syrup), now that we know.