If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Thursday, March 7, 2013


Maple Sugar Time

For years one of the first signs of spring here in N.E. Ohio was that of metal buckets with tin tent like tops attached to sugar maples in woods and front yards along the roads. Now except for some traditionalists or those who only have a few trees to tap, clear or blue tubing have replaced the buckets.

Most of us in the north have grown tired of winter and the temperamental weather teasing us with warmer and sunny days only to plunge back into cold and cloudy days. But this weather is perfect for maple farmers. As days warm up slightly, the sap rises and is held there during the freezing nights. When it warms up again in the morning, the tree releases the sap and pressure forces it out of the tap into the tubing or bucket.

When I was a young child, my Grandpa Jones made maple syrup every year in an old sugar house beyond his fields next to the woods. The building was very old of silvered wood with gaps between many of the boards. In earlier years horses would have hauled the sled through the wooded paths to collect the sap from tin buckets then poured into large barrels on the back of the sled. By my time it was a Farmall tractor that hauled the sled. My father and uncles helped my grandpa collect the maple sap and watch over it boiling in a large flat metal pan over a fire kept constantly fed so it wouldn’t go out. They probably took turns. I’m not sure how my dad and uncles who had jobs managed it. As a child, my brother Jerry sometimes joined them, and he said they sat around in the evenings when it was their time playing cards, talking and drinking coffee and eating food they’d cooked on the fire under the boiling sap.

When my oldest son, John, was a teenager, he and his friend Randy from across the road decided to make maple syrup. Using milk jugs and some taps they had, they gathered sap. The first batch was to be Randy’s and it was boiled somewhere behind his house. Now it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup so I don’t imagine they got much more than a pint if that. Then it was John’s turn to try, but the sap had to be boiled in a pot on our electric stove. I was in charge of that since he had to go to school, and I only boiled it in the daytime.

The first batch was coming along nicely when a friend stopped in. We were chatting when I smelled something burning. The sap had passed the syrup stage and was now burned on the bottom of the pot. 

So John and Randy started gathering more sap and this time I watched over it carefully. That is until my parents and younger siblings came for Sunday dinner. I had taken the pot of almost maple syrup off the stove and set it aside while cooking the dinner. Unfortunately, one of my kitchen helpers cleaning up dumped it down the drain because they didn’t know what it was. That was our last attempt at making maple syrup, but not the last time we celebrated maple syrup season.

For several weekends, there is a Maple Madness Driving Tour of various sugar houses and other events within easy driving distance. For years my family and I went to these various places and when they were gone, a friend and I often went. Included in this was always a pancake and sausage all day breakfast with maple syrup, of course, put on by a local fire department or some other organization raising money. I haven’t been in years, but just maybe this year I’ll go again.

How do they celebrate the coming of Spring in your neck of the woods?


James Montgomery Jackson said...

Our home in Michigan is in a mostly maple tree forest. Some of the locals still run a sugar bush, but for the most part only commercial operations can make any money at it, and most people seem to prefer the taste of fake maple syrup over the real stuff.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, around here it doesn't seem to be a large commercial operation. A short distance north of me we have a sizable Amish community.Most of those - Amish or Yankee - also have another income, too, whether it's farming or something else. A few years back my neighbor to the south tapped the maples for two or three years, but I think he decided the work wasn't worth what he earned doing it.

Those who prefer the fake maple syrup like the extra sugar added to it, I imagine.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Wonderful post, Gloria! I've visited in Vermont and sampled its syrup. The process for developing it has always fascinated me. Thanks for the insight!

Warren Bull said...

One sign of spring in Kansas City is a glut of young squirrels. I seen them play and jump on each other like puppies.

Gloria Alden said...

Paula,I'm heading out on a Maple Syrup driving event Sunday with two of my sisters. E.B. asked me to take pictures of the process so I'm hoping I remember my camera. I'm looking forward to the pancake, sausage and maple syrup meals in various places that go on all day. I never fix pancakes for myself so it will be a treat. I'm also planning on buying some real maple syrup for my brother whose birthday is next weekend.

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, occasionally I see young squirrels playing on my walks, but not too often because Maggie likes to chase squirrels. Of course, she wouldn't know what to do with one if she managed to catch it. If it just sat there and chattered at her she'd stay back and bark at it, but never attack. It's the chase she enjoys.

Patg said...

Interesting, I didn't know they did maple syrup in Ohio. I always think of it as being a New England and Canadian product.
Spring? In the NW? Well, I guess we do get flowers blooming, and the roddys and azalea are beautiful, but bright and sunny? Rarely. I only celebrate the arrival of summer, which tends to come mid-July. :)

E. B. Davis said...

I love maple syrup and cream. It reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Woods, the first book of the series. But I grew up in an area where a lot of things were made. In nearby Lancaster, PA, there used to be a cheese shop where they also made cheese. I remember them separating out the whey. I thought it wonderful to watch how such natural products were helped my man into being.
Take pictures for me!

Gloria Alden said...

Pat, I have snowdrops blooming now, and the tulips and daffodils have sprouts coming up. In a month or maybe sooner, I will have blooming, but rhodies and azaleas not until May. It's something to really look forward to.

Kara Cerise said...

When I was young I visited relatives in Pennsylvania and remember watching my oldest cousin hang buckets on maple trees to gather sap. I especially remember the taste of real maple syrup on homemade pancakes! Good memories.

Gloria Alden said...

E.B. I will take pictures for you. In Middlefield, just north of me they have a cheese factory as well as a cheese co-op. The cheese factory used to have tours, but I'm not sure if they still do. I found it fascinating when I did the tour. Because the old order Amish don't use electricity, their milk generally goes for cheese since it's unpasteurized.

Unknown said...

I remember those days Mom. I especially like walking in the woods with you and seeing those tin cans hanging off the trees doing their job or blue hoses mostly now. This all brings back nostalgic feelings. Thanks for the memories! Love you, Mary

Ricky Bush said...

In my neck of the woods in Texas, when the pecans trees, hickory trees, and nut trees in general, sprout leaves and buds Spring is here. By the way Gloria, I loved your book.