|Fifty years ago we raked and mowed around the same maple trees|
that gave up their syrup last spring for this homemade delight.
Growing up on our seventeen acre hobby farm on Lake Andrew, we were always aware of the many big maple trees shading the property, most keenly when raking their dead leaves into big, crisp piles for burning. We observed their distinctive palmately-veined leaf structures -- only after learning in Mr. Madson's 10th grade science class what palmate means, of course.
It wasn't until the Fernholz's bought our place around 1980 that the sugar maples were tapped. The new owners went at it industriously, drilling and collecting pails of syrup from the dozens of maples surrounding the house, boiling the raw drippings in a big evaporator, reducing them to a precious elixir, worthy of a Christmas morning breakfast.
|Stacks of pails beside the evaporator in Rollie's maple shed.|
That's a garden tiller in the foreground, nothing like that
appeared during our indenture on the weed-riven soil.
We gardened the old-fashioned way.
When we visited the old place this summer for a dose of nostalgia and a look-see at what was new on the old place, Rollie showed us his five-year-old vineyard, at that time just bursting with shiny, mature varietals soon ready for harvest. A sharp-eyed hawk guarded against winged marauders.
We admired the neat vegetable garden, beehives, new walnut trees planted by the squirrels, and the bright legacy flowers everywhere. As we departed, our kind hosts graciously presented a gift of their prize homemade maple syrup.
We haven't cracked the jar open yet, we were waiting for the right occasion to enjoy its treasure. That's going to be on Christmas morning, we have decided, when we make a breakfast for our family, topping our waffles with an actual product from Stan's boyhood home.
One more reason to anticipate the big day.
|The Fernholz's in front of our old homestead.|
Notice the lightning rods. They must work --the house is still there.