Sunday, April 05, 2009

New Hampshire Gold

The smell of wood smoke always reminds me of two seasons in New Hampshire, Spring or Autumn. There was something comforting to me when the temperature dropped and people lit their wood stoves or fire places that night. Standing on your front porch; gazing at the stars, and getting that first whiff of smoke, awoke in you that the season had truly arrived.

When I think back to Spring, I remember the anticipation of a yearly ritual...sugaring off. My Dad and I did this every single year. Mind you, we only had three sugar maple trees to tend, which was enough for our needs. Dad made an evaporator from an enameled, deep refrigerator drawer which would hold about three gallons of sap. He always amazed me with how he could do so much with so little. We'd sit there by the fire and watch that clear sap reduce into syrup. It's sweet scent perfumed with wood smoke is still fresh in my mind. This maple syrup was not the Grade A Light Amber we sell to "flatlanders", with its light, delicate maple flavor. Nosah! This was fit for farmers or lumberjacks; its flavor didn't whisper "maple" , it bellowed it like a Holstein bull!

Sunday mornings were particulary great during the season. Mom would make buckwheat pancakes with flour from our friends farm in Vermont or French toast from her homemade bread, and sausage patties or bacon from our pig. We didn't have much money, but, were millionaires in the food department. The fruit of your labor always tastes better. Funny how times change. Today, this humble breakfast would be called "artisinal" and only the rich could afford to eat it. Back then, it was simply good and everyone ate it.

Our beloved sugar maples are still on my Mom's property and have not been tapped for years. They produced gallons of New Hampshire " gold" which sweetened our daily lives, and I am grateful for these memories.

But, do you really want to know where the richest deposit of gold is here? Simply, it is found within the people who were raised in the great state of New Hampshire.