Pikies of Pete Smith Road (Names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Kids are experts at doing things the hard way, but the funny thing is that we call it “playing”. When my kids start setting up some sort of imaginary scenario, there is no limit to what they will make, build, and organize. They draw and then print currency, they build entire huts in the woods that are still standing, they sit for hours in “shops” waiting for customers, etc. They make combing brushes.

So, speaking of doing things the hard way, I’m back to making maple syrup. It’s a little more cost effective than an exercise class as it’s free, I don’t have to drive anywhere, and I’m absorbing all that nice vitamin D while spending all that time outside. But, it sure makes me tired! It’s very involving. I wake up in the morning and look at the time and within a minute or so. my brain goes to “the sap buckets!” and then “Must get up and see if there is ice to take off.” ” Must collect sap before it starts dripping again.”

Then there are the long hours of fire-stoking and dead wood collecting…. That’s where the “pikies”* concept comes in. This time of year, you can find me struggling along the road that passes in front of my house with a big wheel barrrow overflowing with “dead wood” from the woods all up and down the road. And I’m not dressed in my “nice” coat. At age 50, it isn’t quite so easy to spend all day breaking up the longer pieces by jumping on them while holding one end. But I still try. Or I leave them for my son to deal with, as he has gotten quite devoted to helping with the fire. With our devotion to doing things the hard way, we have not of course invested a heavy duty tray for boiling the sap like the professionals use…the tall round pots continue to serve.

As long as I don’t forget that I am “finishing” the sap on the stove, it is a wonderful aroma to smell in the house…And then we make pancakes and have about the “realest” maple syrup you can have!

*” pikies” is the name given to itinerant gypsy families in the UK.

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