Simple Maple Syrup

2/26/2018 - 10:21:42 AM

Simply Maple Syrup

What’s your first memory of maple syrup? Mine’s not really a syrup story. It involves eating breakfast for lunch. Every Sunday, it seemed like my friend and I were begging our parents to go to the other’s after church. This Sunday we got the green light, and I joined them for lunch. Being 9 years old, I was pretty impressed with all the world flags decorating the restaurant. If I remember right, we were at one of the original IHOPs.


When our food came, there was the French toast I had ordered, the eggs, the bacon, the little pitcher of warm syrup, and the, wait a minute, ice cream? Yeah, there it was, a tiny little dish, with a tiny little scoop of ice cream. Well, eat dessert first, right? I grabbed my spoon and dug in. So yummy, so...Uhm. No. Quickly. Scan the table. Did anyone see? Nonchalantly take the spoon out of your mouth and calmly spread the butter left there on the French toast and no one will be the wiser. Yeah-- I thought a nicely formed scoop of butter was ice cream. So cosmopolitan, so worldly wise, so international. Ok, I was nine, cut me some slack.


So, anyway, I asked you a question. Your maple syrup memory? Or maybe it’s more of a maple syrup feeling. The air is crisp. Your breath hangs right in front of your face, a little cloud coaxing you onward. Crunching beneath your feet, you’re prompted to stop and scan your surroundings. This snow. This beauty. It nestles in the trees, blankets the ground, envelops your being. Surrounded by trees, yet your sightlines take in the vastness of the forest, hillside and the valley below. At this delicious moment, it is your dwelling. And there, gleaming not 50 yards away, is another one to check off your list. About 3ft above the ground, suspended on a slender tree trunk, it contains a natural phenomena. Gently removing the lid, you see that it’s full to the brim. 10 gallons of this liquid can be 1 quart of syrup.


There’s just something about the idea of getting your maple syrup, that simple stuff you put on your pancakes, from a tree out in the wild. The adventure of the northern environs draws us.Why the urgent pull of a New England winterscape?  Why the Iditarod? Why The Call of the Wild? But in this adventure, there is also the promise of peace and calm. From Wisconsin to Vermont, New York to Minnesota, the winters are often harsh. But the little moments of fresh breeze and gentle sun melt over our hearts. The distant chirping of birds beginning to nest brings assurance and opens our eyes to the wide landscapes winter so gently creates.


Yes, even as the sun and the wind take turns building the untamably beautiful season of winter, a quiet, unstoppable lifeforce surges in everything. Life is everywhere, and it cannot be corralled or fenced in for long. One of the mysteries of life is that it is so forceful, so incessant, so unremitting, yet at the same time, so gentle and sweet. Maple syrup is just one of the many gifts life betows. This simple food, playfully delighting the palate, is a tiny glimpse of the hidden, unseen energy that is everywhere. Even in a silly moment, where a boy eats ice cream and tastes butter, the sweet gentleness of life is revealed. Every good and perfect gift is from above.


Maple syrup--it’s the simple things.


1 comment
Fantastic article, makes me want waffles
Bob Mitchell
2/27/2018 - 11:00:25 AM
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