The First Har­vest of Spring

Country - - OUT & ABOUT - JES­SICA EVANS

Ver­mont is usu­ally what comes to mind when peo­ple think about maple syrup. How­ever, in the hills of north­ern Michi­gan, maple trees abound, and there are many folks who head out to the su­gar bush to tap trees each spring. My fam­ily is among them.

In early March, Dad shov­els out his “sap shack” to get ready for the im­pend­ing start of the sweet stuff. As a child, I al­ways loved maple syrup sea­son be­cause it meant longer days out­side en­joy­ing 45-de­gree weather (prac­ti­cally trop­i­cal af­ter a long, snowy win­ter) and gath­er­ing buck­ets full of sap.

My folks al­ways made it fun. While the sap boiled down into a de­li­cious syrup, we had a cook­out. Mom made potato salad and baked beans, and we roasted hot dogs on the fire, with s’mores for dessert.

I moved away af­ter col­lege, but five years ago, my hus­band, Cory, and I de­cided to re­turn home to north­ern Michi­gan. Our daugh­ter, Em­ber, was born in March 2016—a lucky month, I think! The fol­low­ing spring, she helped her daddy and grandpa make maple syrup for the first time. I am blessed to see her sa­vor the sweet­ness of spring with her grand­par­ents just like I did as a child.

- JAN BLANKENBURG Don­nell­son, Iowa

Em­ber Evans (with her dad, Cory) watches her grandpa Steven Yet­taw boil sap to make maple syrup.

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