Looking for some reads related to maple sugaring?
We happen to have a phenomenal parks system here in central New Jersey that hosts several maple sugaring events. In January and February, we tapped trees and collected sap, and today we attended the last portion of the maple sugaring process: visiting the sugar shack! We watched and smelled the sap boil in the evaporator and sampled syrup atop a silver dollar pancake.
I love when literature dovetails with life experiences. A great description of the maple sugaring process is in Farmer Boy, the third book in the Little House series, which chronicles the childhood of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband on a New York farm. In Chapter 2, “The Turn of the Year,” Almanzo and Father head out to the maple grove to begin collecting the sap.
“In the cold mornings just before sunrise, Almanzo and Father set out to the maple grove. Father had a big wooden yoke on his shoulders and Almanzo had a little yoke. From the ends of the yokes hung strips of moosewood bark, with large iron hooks on them, and a big wooden bucket swung from each hook.
pictured is a yoke with metal buckets in a sugar shack
In every maple tree Father had bored a small hole, and fitted a little wooden spout into it. Sweet maple sap was dripping from the spouts into small pails.
Going from tree to tree, Almanzo emptied the sap into his big buckets. The weight hung from his shoulders, but he steadied the buckets with his hands to keep them from swinging. When they wee full, he went to the great caldron and emptied them into it.
The huge caldron hung from a pole set between two trees. Father kept a bonfire blazing under it, to boil the sap.
Left: our awesome parks naturalist, Laura, and a display of wooden and metal spouts used to tap trees; Right: watching sap boil outside the sugar shack
When the sun was low behind the maple-trunks, Father threw snow on the fire and it died in sizzles and steam. Then Father dipped the hot syrup into the buckets. He and Almanzo set their shoulders under the yokes again, and carried the buckets home.”
Another book you may enjoy reading during maple sugaring season is Sugar White Snow and Evergreens: A Winter Wonderland of Color.
I love how author Felicia Sanzari Chernesky & illustrator Susan Swan depict maple syrup as “winter’s hidden gold” in Sugar White Snow and Evergreens: A Winterland of Color.
This beautiful book, featuring rhythmic text and vibrant collage illustrations, is the third in a series by the same author/illustrator pair. It’s an excellent read for a nature study or prior to/after attending a maple sugaring demonstration.
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