3.24.2011

Maple Season!

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Tee pee, sugar shack, Indiana maple syrup for sale.


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Cathy awaits a mule ride, tree fort, "Crooked Paw" makes syrup the old school way.

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Cindy.

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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.

2 comments:

  1. Our Maple sap run ended early our first year due to warm weather. We ended up with slightly over 1 gallon of finished syrup from approximately 60 gallons of sap out of 12 taps. Tom and I found out you can tap any maple tree, but sugar maples yield the most sugar percentage in the sap so you get more with less cooking time. This by far was the most fun thing RiverSong Farm has done in 2011. I'm going to try tapping this fall in trees I don't want on the farm (like Boxwood Elders), and earlier in the spring since we are so far south.

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  2. Sarah! That's neat. I had no idea. I'd love to tap my own syrup someday.

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