Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sweet and sour

It's such a messy, hopeful time of year.

Around 5:30 every evening I look out and marvel that it is still light out. The kids wear snow pants and coats, more to keep them dry than to keep them warm and I abandon my hat and settle for a fleece instead of a real coat. Our dirt driveway is puddly and muddy, and so is my kitchen floor.

Last night we got a covering of snow, enough to cover the yellow from dogs and orange from Kathleen's snow marker and the dirt from snow clearing. Lacy flakes were still fluttering down at morning light and the sun peeked over a fresh start.

We used that fresh whiteness for a sweet treat. As a kid, after reading the Little House books, I tried to make sugar on snow. I got the Vermont Maid out of the cabinet and brought it out, cold, and poured it over some clean snow. It was sweet and slushy and kinda gross, and I didn't quite get it. Today, I got some of our real maple syrup out, some of the end of the gallon we bought last March, and boiled it. The first attempt was similar to my childhood efforts, so I googled sugar on snow and pulled out the candy thermometer, and wow! It formed these stiff icicles of maple that turned to taffy in your mouth. It stuck to our teeth (and the girls' hair) and we'd try and lick it off and pick at it and then eat some more. I pulled out pickles from last year to temper the sweet, and we stood out in the muddy driveway mixing sweet and sour, winter, spring, and summer.

Warm days and cold nights the sap rises and drip drip drips into the containers on tapped trees with a gift of sweet and the promise of spring. 

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