When in March, most people’s thoughts turn to Madness. Mine turn to Mapleness.
Not that I’m a basketball hater or anything. It’s just that there’s something about maple sap running down collection tubes—nature whispering about winter’s looming demise, and a sure harbinger of spring—that’s more exciting to me than a bunch of college guys running up and down a court.
Plus it’s the perfect excuse to take a ride up through New England in search of this:
So the other Saturday, I set sail on the good ship Ténéré, in search of some sweet, sticky spring. Here’s my craft on the causeway over the Congamond Lakes at the CT/MA border.
I had to stop and defrost at the venerable Granville Country Store & Cheese Shop…
…where I had a “toasted cheddar” that was better than it had any right to be, and a hot cup of tea. My toes and fingers were frozen (it was in the forties, and I’d been riding for almost two hours), and I wasn’t sure how I was going to press on. I thought, “what are the chances they sell those “Lil’ Hotties” boot/handwarmers, along with cellar-aged cheese, local jams and jellies, and pies?
They had ’em. Score.
The view from the grilled cheese table.
I didn’t have a Coke, but this still made me smile.
Before I headed back out, I did a Google search for “maple sugar farm”, and it turned out there was one less than ten miles away right in Granville. Bingo.
Much of the ride there was joyfully unpaved…
In time, I arrived here at the corner of Maple and Happy.
The sugar house was cooking with activity.
Here’s their sparkling new evaporator, creating that intoxicating, maple cotton-candy fog that produces the single finest smell on earth. It’s the olfactory equivalent of crack.
One of the farm owners (believe it or not, I assume this is Mr. Ripley himself) gave a little impromptu syrup tutorial on how you start with maple water boil it down to waffle-drizzling goodness.
Where there’s maple smoke, there’s maplewood fire.
Fire in the hole…warmth for the soul.
I headed up to their “Pancake House” and store to buy a pint of their amber finest and some maple sugar candies (they’re so sweet your teeth hurt) before hopping on my Maple-conveyor and heading back south.
Couple of hours of this….
And it was time for some of this at our old farmhouse. Not quite maplewood. No sugar air. But you know what they call it. Home sweet home…