March 2, 2013

North Cairn: As winter loosens grip, sap flows

(Continued from page 1)

An impending snowstorm was the last thing on our minds, but we got around to it eventually, tossing out anticipated snowfall depths in inches like rash poker bets.

"I heard eight to 18," I said. "But what can that kind of range even mean?"

"No, four to six," one of the guys said.

"Eight to 12," the other countered.

Six to 10 seemed optimistic and realistic both, so I settled on that, though the blue, cloud-laced sky seemed too friendly to deliver that kind of blow again so soon after the last blast. We stowed away the few unused buckets that might still be put to work somewhere else, some other time -- precision in planning being the name of the game. We coiled the extra tubing like a garden hose, fitted it into a bucket, tossed in the unused taps and climbed into our vehicles.

All in all, a little over an hour -- a very reasonable investment for the expected return.

The next step, I understand, comes with collecting and boiling off the 90 percent water to produce syrup. It takes some time, my neighbor tells me, especially on the brick stove that looks like a moonshiner's contraption that he's jerry-rigged in his yard. But it gives him time to read a book and listen to, get this, his transistor radio, while lounging beneath the trees.

It might represent a throwback to some iPad/iPod people, but that kind of labor sounds like the perfect job to me.

I'll be back over to see him in a couple of weeks. Wouldn't want to leave that last part of the task unfinished. Besides, someone has to be on hand to test the final product. I'll bring bacon, eggs and pancake mix. The trees can provide the rest.

North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:


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