With my boots planted in the spring mud, seated on a five-gallon bucket filled with sap, I can’t help but smile. Mom, Dad, Ryan, Mabel, Mary Kate, and Caroline are perched on nearby buckets (or laps) surrounding the cinder-block structure housing the fire and holding the pans of boiling sap. Unlike smoke, the thick clouds of steam rising off the pans are easy on the eyes and slightly sweet-smelling.
A day boiling sap is one to be relished. With hours of watching, mixing and skimming sap there is time to laugh and tell stories, or just sit in appreciative silence. Seventy-five gallons of sap are transferred from our bucket seats to the boiling pans over the fire in intervals. As the day wears on the sap deepens to amber and careful watching begins. The turning point from sap to syrup is 219 degrees. The temperature climbs slowly: 215, 216, 217, 218 and finally 219. Dad and Ryan have been standing ready and can now filter the thickening liquid. The only thing left to do after filtering is to transfer it into jars and set it in the pantry. It will be enjoyed throughout the year with the satisfaction that comes from the memories that went into making it.