March is that time. The Sugar Woods are opened, one of Cumberland County’s sure signs of spring.
When I moved to Amherst many years ago, I knew very little of the maple industry and had never had the experience of walking into the locally named Sugar Woods to enjoy the smells of the sweet evaporator air, to purchase maple leaves, butter, syrup or enjoy some sticky taffy for the walk out.
Going to the Sugar Woods is a tradition for many families in these parts. On Sunday a group of our friends ventured in for our annual pancake and sausage supper at the Donkin’s camp. Twelve of us filled the kitchen as we sat around the table that was covered with syrup, maple butter and their maple barbeque sauce. The food, cooked by Pat and Don was delicious as always, the company wonderful. After our meal, we were as eager as children as we watched Don pour hot syrup on snow so we could roll it up on a stick for a taffy treat.
We discussed the sap run, the temperatures. Cool nights and milder sunny days are the components necessary to make the sap flow. Temperatures that run too cold cease the run and it may or may not start again in the season. ‘God’s will.’ Don said.
We’ll walk into the woods again soon, drop in each camp, enjoy that early spring air, splash in a few puddles along the road and chat with the pedestrian traffic. And if it appears winter like again, we’ll still know that spring is indeed here.