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  • If I were a tourist to Vermont, I would classify it by giving it the label, "The state with a lot of maple syrup and farms." An old tradition in New England in winter is to make maple syrup. No, Aunt Jemima is not real maple syrup by the way. No matter what anyone says, factory made syrup will never compare the real, labored, syrup made by the help of trees. Maybe that's just me, but some people say Vermonters will put maple syrup on everything, which i'm a strong believer in. But through its sweet disguise, maple syrup takes a lot of hard work and effort to produce just one gallon. For every gallon of sweet, rich maple syrup a sugar house produces, it takes forty gallons of sap from the tree that needs to be collected. If you think about how much maple syrup the world must need, then just think of how much sap the world runs on.

    I got the chance this past winter to participate for a week making maple syrup. Let me tell you, its no easy, fun, or light task. The biggest part of making syrup is collecting sap. For nine hours out of the day, I ran around the woods taking buckets that collected sap from the tree off the tree and dumped the clear sap into my two ten gallon buckets. Running tree to tree with heavy buckets of sap, your arms get pretty strong, but really tired by the end of the day. Pain and being sore was something I got used to, but didn't mind. Most of the time, there is likely to be a foot or two of snow to slow you down even more, and ruin your perfectly dry feet and pants for the rest of the day.

    After we collected a few hundred gallons of sap which could take a few hours to a whole day, we brought it to the sugar house which is part of my school's farm. It is there where you get to watch before your very eyes and see tasteless sap from a tree boil down to a sugary liquid that we Americans love to consume. There are multiple meticulous processes included in making sap, and so many little rules and know-hows that its impossible to learn how to do it all in just a week. The only thing I made sure I payed attention to was the scorching hot fire that is lit to keep the sap bubbling and burning down. Although it was a great heat source in those few cold days of winter, having the job of putting wood in the fire is one I never want to be faced with again. And I mean literally faced with. If you've ever stoked a big fire, like a bon fire, you know it can get really hot and you don't want to be close to it for very long. I had to keep grabbing and placing logs into the fire, where if you even look at it, your eyes hurt. Putting my face right next to a thousand degree fire is not something I want to deal with again, not to mention the fine feeling of being soaked from sweat and exhaustion at the end.

    It's amazing how long sugaring has stayed a not only a Vermont tradition, but a New England one as well. There are so many people who take their whole lives and devote it to sugaring season every year. Good thing we have those types of people who know what they're doing, are determined and willing to put themselves through it all every year, and have the will to do all the hard work that pays off.
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