Maple Syrup Memories

| 3/29/2018 9:20:00 AM

Kathryn RandallWhen we first bought our small farm in 1985, we were delighted to find a maple stand on the property. The second spring we made our first batch of maple syrup. Recently, I sat down to record my memories of those wonderful days boiling sap in our homemade evaporator.

The cold hits my face as the kitchen door closes behind me. It is four a.m. in a frozen world. Brittle, crisp air seeps into my insulated overalls, under my wool hat, creeping into my gloves, flowing into my boots, seeking out my toes.

Guided only by moonlight, I make my way to the tractor in the garage. Snow crunches under my feet. The heavy fabric of my pant legs makes a loud sound in the cold air. The rhythmic noise, soothing and invigorating at the same time, is the sound I hear every morning in early spring, when the sap is flowing.

Our rusty tractor, worn out from years of work, sits in the barn, cold and brittle like the world. I plop down on the seat and turn the key in the ignition. The tractor sputters in the frozen air. We are alike, this old machine and I, both sputtering and struggling to get moving.

maple syrup

The tractor engine gives a roar, black exhaust swirls around me, smelling of fuel and dirt. I pull the tractor out of the garage, attach the garden wagon to the back and turn it towards the large garbage cans sitting near the driveway. The plastic cans make a cracking sound with each movement as I load two into the wagon. They fill the wagon, pushing against its sides, tightly wedged. I am ready to collect.