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Making Maple Syrup – a hard but rewarding activity

On a Sunday morning in late winter, neighbors, friends, and three generations of Mattesons gather in the kitchen chatting about the new sap house and the weather’s impact on this year’s sap run.  Old coats and gloves are donned and the group heads out to make the rounds, gathering sap from 140 buckets spread among the maple trees of 7 properties. Jim Matteson resumed his family’s tradition of making syrup 4 years ago and every year more neighbors join in the effort. This year, with the help of many friends, a new sap house was built using reclaimed materials. Making syrup is demanding and I wondered why my father-in-law would go through the trouble and expense of making syrup and why so many in the community wanted to be a part of it. The answer speaks to the power of ritual to give meaning to our lives. For those who are a part of it, January and February become more than just one more month to get through before spring arrives. And for Jim it is passing on a legacy of a productive family engaged in the duties of the season