When I was a kid, the only syrup I ever knew was Aunt Jemima's-- that shapely bottle of corn syrup masquerading as the real stuff. It wasn't until I was 10, eating breakfast at my best friend Stacey's house that I encountered the thinner, more powerful elixir that is maple syrup.
Stacey lived in a very different world from my suburban landscape. Her parents had renovated a stone house from the 1700s and loved to dress up for reenactments of the Revolutionary war replete with bonnets and bayonets. Her mom was a food stylist, a career that was beyond foreign to me at the time and only explicable if I looked up at the photographs in a McDonald's of hamburgers with just the perfect amount of ketchup and pickle showing from under the bun.
Many foods were introduced to me when I spent weekends chez Stacey: fresh mushrooms, anchovies and on that particular morning I am thinking of today-- maple syrup.
Looking back, I can see that my shock at discovering the difference between what I thought was maple syrup and the real thing was one step on a lifelong path toward awareness of and appreciation for, that which is authentic.
A pretty long-winded way of saying, I like maple syrup.
Last year, I had the extraordinary good fortune to live on an 1800 acre farm, surrounded by the Ossipee mountains, where a sugar shack was put to good use every spring.
Although I now live three hours south and am not around the daily happenings of all those long, long hours it takes to produce one precious ounce -- I am checking in on sugaring operations both large and small (such as at Amanda's homestead) and living a bit vicariously through them.
Apparently the season has started early this year due to the warm temperatures we've been having here on the east coast-- maybe it's a problem, maybe it's normal, that I don't know. What I do know is that the sugaring is under way and I am loving this sweetest harbinger of spring.
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