Archive for March 2011
This weekend is Chapel Hill at its best. The dogwoods are out in force, tulips are booming after the coldest winter in years, the daffodils are shouting, redbuds exploding, and camellias are in full bloom as well. Next the azaleas will make our house look like it belongs on an Augusta National fairway before the spring explosion winds down.
Last weekend I was in Amherst with my dear friends the C’s. Amongst our many bucolic pursuits we make maple syrup from sap collected each day from trees on the property.
On Friday Bill and I built the boiler. I’m pretty proud of the setup we constructed. For the front end we built a large oven and on the back end we put an old wood stove. Over the oven we put the specialty boiling pan and over the wood stove we put a large pot with a spigot. The sap went into the pot, preheated, and then trickled constantly into the boiling pan.
On Saturday we started around 6pm and boiled into the wee hours of the morning. The rolling boil was wonderful to see. It was pretty amazing to sample the remaining liquid every hour and taste it getting sweeter and sweeter.
It takes 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. That’s a lot of time to make conversation while tending the fire and warming oneself by the warmth of the stove. We made it down to about four gallons before we stumbled into bed.
In the end I left with a jar of last year’s syrup. Word is that they’re swimming in syrup this weekend . . . over three gallons worth.
It was great fun to create something so wonderful: from the collecting, to the boiling, to the constant taste tests. It was lovely. Cold, communal, and lovely.
A grad school friend sent me this thoughtful article today on our engagement with the internet. It’s a longish piece (15 minutes to read) reflecting on how our constant engagement online keeps us from reflecting. Makes me think about how much I value reflection and how little I engage in it.
Today we built the oven and the evaporator. Tomorrow we make 1.5-2 gallons of maple syrup from 70 gallons of sap. Tonight we celebrated. Love it.
After watching the unreal video of the tsunami wiping a town wholly a way in minutes I needed a walk and some conversation. I found the conversation with Charity and I took the ten minute walk to Puffer Pond. The falls were thunderous and the pond silent. Beautiful, stark, and cold.