5. Throughout the long winter, read many books about maple sugaring. Everyone says it’s a lot of hard work, but worth the trouble. Night after sub-zero night, dream of a tide of syrup, flowing endlessly into the bottles you’ve collected and the Mason jars you’ve bought. Wow, what are you going to do with it all? Give it away, of course! Just think of all the friends and family who will be so delighted with a pint of Vermont Grade-A amber! You’re going to have to bear gracefully with all the compliments you’ll get. And you’ll have syrup all year to pour on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, yogurt … everything! Try to name a food that doesn’t go better with maple syrup. That’s right, you can’t.
6. In February, check your cordless drill. Wait, it doesn’t work? That’s surprising. Order a new battery from Amazon. Wait, the new battery doesn’t work? Crap, it must be the charger. Order a new charger from Amazon. It works! Okay, now you’re ready!
7. It’s early March. The temperature is rising. It’s time to tap. Take your drill out, follow the guidance in the books, install the taps, and hang the buckets. Wow, that went better than you thought. Just a few hours, and all the buckets are hung. Sure, the snow is pretty deep—it’s up to your thighs in places. But hey, this is exciting. What’s a little snow?
8. Time for a test boil. Uncover the firewood, and discover it’s covered with mold. Hmmm, I thought they said it was kiln-dried? Try to start the fire, but run out of both matches and butane in the fireplace lighter. Back to the store! Okay, now it’s going pretty good, everything seems to be working, although the six inches of solid ice in the fireplace is making life difficult. The water in the pan doesn’t quite come to a boil, but you’re sure you can fix this by getting a better draft going and making the arch burn hotter.
9. The temperature rises a bit, and you check a few buckets. You’ve got sap! Collect all the sap from your buckets, and carry it to your storage barrels, by dumping the buckets into 5-gallon pails. Five gallons of sap weigh 55 pounds. Carry a 55-pound pail through three feet of snow for 250 mostly-uphill feet. After a few runs, put on your snowshoes, whose straps promptly break. Sneer at the injustice of the world, and improvise a solution with twine. Collecting the sap will take every molecule of energy in your body. But you do it! At the end, you’ve got about 50 gallons, ready to boil. All right!
10. Three days later, it’s the weekend, and here we go! But wait—all the sap you collected is frozen solid. The temperature has plunged to 10 degrees the last few nights, because this is the Winter That Never Ends. Oh well—you’ll just have to wait till it’s thawed.
11. The weather warms again—and you collect more sap. Your first storage barrel is still frozen, but you fill the second barrel with 55 gallons of fresh sap. This is amazing! Tomorrow, you’ll finally be making maple syrup. Golden, delicious, genuine Vermont maple syrup. Cue the cameras!