SUGARING TIME by Kathryn Lasky


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In the attentive, evocative manner of The Weavers Gift, this follows another rural Vermont family, ""Alice and Don Lacey and their three children,"" through the process of gathering sap from their maple trees and boiling it down to syrup. It takes place in ""the time between seasons,"" a rime in Match ""when winter seems tired and spring is only a hoped-for thing."" For the Laceys, it is the time when the sap begins to flow. Then, alerted by the weather, they spend two days with their horses ""breaking out"" trails through the sugary SHOW. Next come the drilling of tapholes (the children help) and the installation of buckets, which will be checked when a sunny morning signals that the ""sap's rising!"" There's a pause here to explain how sunlight, carbon dioxide, and chlorophyll have worked to make the sugar, which now emerges in the watery sap that eight-year-old Jonathan Lacey calls long ""drrriiips."" The Laceys dump the buckets into a filtered gathering tank on their horse-drawn sled, from which, back at the sugarhouse, it runs through a gutter (""The children take quick sips"") to a storage tank. More waiting, then the sensitive boiling process (40 gallons of sap make one gallon of syrup), which must be stopped at just the right temperature or the sap will turn from syrup to cream, and then burn. On boiling day, ""children stay up later than usual and supper is. . . catch as catch can up in the sugarhouse."" There is still the drawing-off and grading to be done, and then, in April, ""the very last snowfall of the season,"" a sugar-on-snow party with the new maple syrup. Once more the process is observed with detailed clarity, thorough understanding, and lyrical appreciation, all engagingly and impressively integrated.

Pub Date: March 28th, 1983
Publisher: Macmillan