Cathy awaits a mule ride, tree fort, "Crooked Paw" makes syrup the old school way.
I was *trying* to look like I was guzzling syrup. Cindy said the first pic looked too staged, but
when I tried again, I just ended up looking constipated. Haha!
Collected from the Maple Festival: maple cream sandwich cookies, maple cotton candy, maple
leaf pancake mold, maple cream, maple fudge peanuts.
I think the universe was trying to tell me to eat more maple syrup. All signs were pointing to maple.
The first clue was in February, when I commented on a Canadian friend's (Paul) Facebook photo featuring a stack of delicious pancakes and a pretty can of pure maple syrup lingering in the background. Apparently, syrup comes in cans in his neck of the woods. I thought the can's graphic was particularly pretty. It featured a red snow-covered barn with a billowing chimney tucked behind the trees in a forest. A week later, Paul surprised us with a package containing one of those cans of syrup. So stoked! So good! We've been enjoying it on steel-cut oatmeal with bananas, dates and walnuts. Oh, how I love real maple syrup. If you've only ever had the corn-syrupy crap from the grocery store, pure maple syrup is a revelation.
Second clue. I recently read The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food and Love by Kristin Kimball. I have a weakness for city-mouse-to-country-mouse memoirs, and anything revolving around food, sustainable living or farm life. I hit the jackpot. This book gave me all of those things and even a refreshingly honest love story, too. My favorite part centered around the farm's sugarbush. Kristin describes long days pulling a horse-drawn sled through the snowy maple forest, filling bucket after bucket with sap from the taps drilled into the trees. Hard work, no doubt, but what a beautiful scene! It still haunts me. I instantly wanted to visit a sugarbush, but there aren't any this far South. Or so I thought ...
Third Clue. Just a day after finishing The Dirty Life, I noticed an event flash up on my Facebook page. 2011 Maple Syrup festival/Open House. Not only was there an operating sugarbush located just north of Louisville, but they were having a festival to celebrate the harvest's end. There would be tours, maple cotton candy, pancakes for dinner, Bluegrass music and mule rides. There would be tomahawk throwing! A tree fort! A tee pee! It was like someone stole my brain, shook out all the good parts and used them to build the best day ever. So on a recent beautiful Saturday, friends Cindy, Cathy and I went on a little adventure, over the hills and through the woods to Salem, Indiana. Leane and Michael's Sugarbush was everything I'd imagined - a little compound of wood cabins hidden in a grove of maple trees. Friendly dogs roamed the area in search of hands to pet them, a quartet of bluegrass players plucked their strings on a covered porch and the smell of pancakes and bacon wafted through the air, despite the sun already being perched up high in the afternoon sky.
Louisville friends, take note: The maple festival happens every year during the first weekend of March, weather permitting.