Winter came back to us a few days ago, and we woke up to a new inch of snow on the ground yesterday, dang it. The desire to be outdoors is palpable everywhere you go. Funny that I’ve lived through my third Vermont winter without the singular experience of visiting a maple sugaring operation, ’til today. People in the ‘hood will figure out where these photos were made; it happens to be spitting distance from home. A bit touristy, but also an energetic and happy operation run by enthusiastic folks who really want to teach you about their maple syrup and feed you free pancakes. That said, I could not really follow our docent. He was a fast talker who assumed we knew much more than we did (speaking for myself only, actually). Suffice it to say, the sap flows from maples this time of year; people who sugar fuss about high temperatures reaching too high too soon, and other syrup-y conundrums. Then it is boiled and boiled, reduced until it becomes the sticky elixir known as maple syrup. And I’ve just distilled down this process for you–afficionados would have so much more to say–there are filtering steps along the way to reduce sediment (which hard core folks sometimes actually want in their syrup) and create the perfect, translucent liquid that is bottled for store shelves. Too bad I can’t share the unbelievable smell this little house was belching out earlier today. The equipment is shiny, state-of-the-art, acquired four years ago, we were told. It’s the wave of the maple syrup-making future. Beautiful, delicious, warming, sustaining goo. On the tour they hand it to you steaming hot, in little cups–and they’ll keep refilling, if you want more (I speak from experience). Finished our visit with a trip inside the adjacent Norman Rockwell exhibit, and cider doughnuts. It was high time to see a place I pass twice on my daily commute. (And of course Handsome Chef Boyfriend knew everybody there.) Not a bad Sunday spring outing, even if it still feels like winter.