Sunday, February 26, 2012

Maple Sugar Time: Part Two

Yesterday I set out mid-morning with my friend Nicki to attend the Parke County Maple Sugar Festival. After a drive of half an hour or so past barren but beautiful corn fields and soy fields awaiting the spring planting, we reached the 4-H Fairgrounds just north of Rockville around 10:30. Although he was looking very spiffy in his little coat, Nicki's dog, Henry, had to wait for us in the car as we entered the festival headquarters where the all-day pancake breakfast was being served.

For six dollars a plate, we each devoured sausage patties and a stack of fresh-flipped pancakes, with butter and, of course, extremely delicious maple syrup. Then we took the printed list of the nearby sugar camps; of the five camps on the list, only three were open today. So we drove to the first one, following various twists and turns, until we turned onto the pleasingly named Egg Farm Road. Someday I would like to live on a road called Egg Farm Road.

But the camp on Egg Farm Road was not what I dreamed it would be. The garage-like structure that held the syrup-boiling equipment was cold and quiet; the camp was open, but they weren't boiling any syrup today. We walked over to the few sparse trees fringing the graveled area where we had parked. The trees had some kind of plastic tubing attached to them to get the sap out. We didn't see any sap running through the tubing, and tubing wasn't what we had come to see. We had come to see little tin buckets hanging from the trees! We had come to see the sap boiled into syrup! If there had been snow on the ground, I would have wanted to pour some syrup onto the snow to harden as Laura and Mary do in one of the Little House books. But there was no snow and no syrup.

I thought about how my sister had almost flown out from New Jersey to go the Maple Syrup Festival with me. Was this what she would have seen: plastic tubing stuck into a couple of trees? Were there no longer any Maple Hill miracles to be had?


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