Sunday, March 28, 2010

Maple tap

My buddy Harry Finch hails from Vermont. He posted a bunch of photos of a maple sap extraction that are stunning to me. They are scary, surreal and surprising. I loved these photos. I mean, who thinks about the business end of maple syrup? Harry Finch, to be sure.

And my dad. My dad made maple syrup once.

I pulled onto Mom and Dad's property in April 2002. There was something attached to one of the maples. Then another and another. As I got closer, I recognized them as empty half gallon whiskey bottles, all Dad's preferred brand of Lord Calvert Canadian. They each had a tube that went from deep inside the tree to deep inside the bottle.

Dad came out to greet me.

"Dad," I said, "there's whiskey bottles strapped to all your trees."

He rolled his eyes and clucked his tongue. "How the hell else would I collect the sap for the maple syrup?" he said.

That was so funny to me.

Dad went on to boil, boil, boil all the sap he collected from his whiskey bottles and make the syrup. Then he died.

Mom gave the closest family members bottles of Dad's syrup for Christmas that year, but I've never been able to bring myself to pour one drop of mine over a stack of hotcakes.

That's what it's like. That's exactly what it's like.

* * *


Anonymous said...

maple syrup is like a wonderful jesus juice (ooh that sounded odd). i love it very much. and to all those people out there who use corn syrup and say that its the same as maple syrup- fuck you all very much.

dean said...

Anon: who are these people? They can be dismissed as mentally deficient.

Chris is the maple syrup fanatic in our house, but there's no way in hell that anything real or artificial is the same as real maple syrup.

I still have issues with using it. When I was growing up, we had the artificial stuff (Log Cabin!) because real maple syrup was too expensive. So even now I tend to use the artificial stuff, saving the good stuff for my girls.

Maybe how you think about maple syrup says something about you.

Sean Craven said...

That's it, just come up to my face, all smiles and giggles, and then punch me right in the heart. Yeah, it's like that, all right.

Good writing.

Sean Craven said...

At my brother's wake, I got drunk on beer he brewed. I thought about keeping it -- but I knew what he would wanted.

jonas said...

My special lady friend has been known to import real maple syrup into restaurants at which she plans to eat breakfast. And, give the occasional indignant guffaw to the poor wait-person who dares tell her their corn-syrup is the real deal.

I get a kick out of people who tell me "nooo, only imitation syrup for me. the real stuff tastes weird."

Yeah, that'd be the maple part of it, you twit.

Dean, you're right. When it comes to maple syrup, you either get it, or you don't.

And for those who don't like the taste of maple, here's another use you might find worthwhile:

Amy L. Hanna said...

That is a sweet memory indeed.

DogsDontPurr said...

What Sean Craven said. Exactly.

The first time I ever had real maple syrup was at The Fountain Coffee Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I never even knew it existed before that. It was served in a tiny glass pitcher. OMG...pure ambrosia.

LimesNow said...

I love you, Erin. Your Dad's syrup is a venerable thing. Save it until you don't want to save it. Then enjoy consumingit.

Colleen said...

Between the maple syrup story and the earlier one about your dad dragging your brother's car along (hundreds?) of miles on the freeway, I'd say your dad was a very special fellow.