The car-burying snow of a few weeks ago has gone, leaving in its wake a sudden explosion of 80-degree temps and early dandelions. As a barefoot enthusiast, lover of the outdoors, and mother of seriously cabin-fevered children plus dog, I say bring it on. But the change was sudden. Sudden enough to leave one wondering how we got here from there, and to mourn the abbreviated transition period and its unique joys.
Oh yes, I am speaking of the maple syrup.
Longtime readers and friends know of this family tradition, and how we look forward to this aspect of our DIY, tree-hugging (literally in this case), homesteading lifestyle. When the sun started shining, we were more than ready. Most of the clan (sans eldest teen and puppy) tramped out together to tap the trees, with Mom diligently photo-documenting each step of the progress, and mentally drafting the Big Blog Post.
Alas. For good sap flow, conditions must be just right: freezing temps at night followed by warm and sunny days. We saw that type of weather for roughly a week.
We produced THREE PINTS of syrup.
Remember that scene at the end of A Christmas Story, where Dad's expectation of the turkey dinner comes violently crashing down around his ears? It wasn't merely the crushed anticipation of that first meal, but also of all of the leftover meals to follow. He had a lot of emotional investment wrapped up in future dining. And so did we. Weeks of gut-stuffing homemade pancakes and French toast and waffles, drenched in fresh, buttery syrup...gone. All gone! Our army of diligently saved and scrubbed glass syrup bottles remains on standby, gathering dust until Vernal Equinox 2011.
In the interest of stubborn pride, however, I will still show off the debut of our biggest and baddest DIY contraption yet: Dad's Super Deluxe Sap Evaporator.
I know. You're jealous. You wish you had one of these in your yard. And before you scoff, trust me--you do. Even three pints of fresh syrup is so ungodly superior to the mass-produced stuff (not to mention non-maple, all-HFCS "pancake" syrup, dear Lord don't get me started...) that it is worth, well, having this in your yard.
Even if the neighbors assume that it is a still. (Which we are not necessarily discounting as a future homesteading adventure.)
As you can see, it is made primarily of "upcycled" materials. The only purchased parts are the pans. Even the spark arrestor was resurrected from a former life.
It's good to have a handy man around the place.