MARCH MAPLENESS

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:

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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.

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I had to stop and defrost at the venerable Granville Country Store & Cheese Shop…

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…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?

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They had ’em. Score.

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The view from the grilled cheese table.

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I didn’t have a Coke, but this still made me smile.

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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…

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In time, I arrived here at the corner of Maple and Happy.

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The sugar house was cooking with activity.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Couple of hours of this….

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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…

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