For Anita, sugaring is the first sign of spring. “It’s a time of rebirth,” she says. “You go out in the woods with snow up to your knees and know that spring is coming. Things are changing. It’s mud season, which I hate. Sugaring takes us though that time.
“To me it’s magic, seeing little shoots coming up. We have this wonderful earth and we take it for granted. Spring is the very beginning and we’re the fortunate ones. Whether it’s a good season or poor like this year, it’s good to feel part of the earth and the seasons.”
Their sugar bush covers two to three acres. Anita and Louie have been tapping for 16 years. They use the “old-fashion” process: tap, insert spiels and hang buckets with lids. When it’s a cold night, below freezing, and a warm day in the 40s, the sap flows.
Often Anita’s daughter Heidi and son Chad and their children help collect sap. “To watch my grandchildren, talks to my heart,” says Anita. “I watch them put their tongue under a spiel to catch the sweet white sap. This is special and not all children are so fortunate.
“When they were younger, my grand children had fun playing around the trees and once they got lost. Now they tell me ‘We won’t get lost again,’” says Anita. “I’m hoping that one will carry on this tradition. It’s doesn’t need to be a business, but to have syrup for their family. What is most important is the family gets to be together.”
Back at the sugar house Anita is busy feeding the evaporator. The fresh sap pours into the storage tank. Gravity transports the sap into the evaporator.
Smoke rises above the sugar house while inside the room is filled with the sweet smell of sap boiling down to syrup. Anita rewards her grandsons with a sample of this season's syrup—a reward for all their work in the sugar bush empting buckets.