It is almost springtime! The clocks have been changed and my Dad has tapped the Sugar Trees. For me the beginning of syrup season always symbols the end of winter. A great opportunity to share with you photos from my trip home last spring (of course shot on my iPhone) to see my family and document the Curtiss Sugar Bush in operation.
I loved my short visit home and the opportunity to see my dad with three and four generations of Curtiss’ working side by side. It is a lot of work for them but the love and laughter shared in that steamy sugarhouse lasts a lifetime. If only the iPhone could capture the sweet smell of syrup steam.
It was also great fun to “document” the entire process on my iPhone. Continuing my theory that the best camera is the one you have with you. This was a bigger challenge because of the lighting. The Syrup operation goes all through the night with limited light sources once the sun goes down.
Remind yourself when you are enjoying family events or traditions, take out your camera or your phone and record a family photo story. I am sure you will be glad you did when you share it with others who couldn’t be there. I hope you enjoy the photos of “Curtiss Sugar Bush”.
The season is generally a month long starting in late Feb or early March going as late as mid April some years. It really is all dependent on the weather. My father says he can smell it in the air when it is time to start and when it is time to end.
The gathering crew is made up of family, neighbors and friends. Some of the crew has been helping for decades. When my mom was alive she was the leader of the gathering crew. She did not let anyone slack in the woods when there was work to be done. Each worker carries two big buckets to collect the smaller buckets on each tree. Then back to the tank to empty and go again. Once a tank is filled it goes to the Sugarhouse to start the process of boiling it down to make syrup.
It is not unusual to gather until sunset, it just depends on how big the crew is and how big the “run” is.
The sugar count changes from season to season, sometimes from one gather to the next. It can take as little as 25 gallons to make a gallon but generally its closer to 35-40.
During a good year, they will go through 18- 20 cords of wood. My Dad can tell you what wood works best at what point to bring the sap to a boil faster or to slow it down when needed.
The Syrup is filter at least six times before it is bottled.
On a night with a good run, the boiling can take all night, starting around 5pm and going to 2-3 am sometimes longer. It is not unusual for the runs to go every night for a week or more. As a kid I remember sitting out here with my Dad and watching the Northern Lights in the sky late at night.
Zach is the oldest Grandson who is helping every night in the Sugarhouse. He may not have the years of experience as my father but he certainly has the heart.
My favorite photo from the trip is not one that I shot (it was made on an iPhone). It is of me with my dad, Stanley Curtiss, the “CEO” of Curtiss Sugar Bush.