It is not unusual to come upon strange things when I walk in the bush around here.
I’m not talking about bears, this time. On many occasions, I smell the sour aroma of pot. Rarely do I come across the folks smoking it, but often enough, this stink is in the air. Personally, I’d rather smell skunk.
More often, I come across funny things; a plastic monkey in a tree, the odd glove on a stick. I found a tea pot and wooden fairy once.
This winter, I saw a lot of plastic milk jugs, hooked up to trees, with a hose.
I pointed them out to Ken and he called it right away. “Those are maple trees, someone is tapping them.”
No way! Sunshine Coast maple syrup!
Years ago, (there it is) when I traveled back east to teach at Dorian’s, the maple syrup is a huge industry. Montreal maple syrup is common too, but they all use sugar maples. I’ve not heard of west coast, big leaf syrup before. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention.
Yesterday, I saw a man messing with the jugs. Hey! said, in the most nosey of Parker ways.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
His name was Jack, and we chatted for quite a while.
He’s been tapping close to 120 big leaf maple trees for the last few years. All the trees are on crown land and, yes — he is making maple syrup!
I was super curious. I really wanted more information, more so I wanted to taste some local big leaf maple syrup!
Of course, neither of us had a means of exchanging information. We had no pencil, paper or phone between us; not even a camera.
After deciding our memory was crap, and that neither of us would remember a phone number for the hour it would take to get home. We started in on the, I live here, I know them, you know where such and such is, my last name is, I’m in the phone book but, not that one, that’s my nephew… and on we went, until I was sure I had enough information that I could find Jack again.
Several hours later, Ken and I were at Jack’s house —checking out his operation!
Jack has a very funky, bootleg type of still, going strong on his property. There was close to 34 gallons of sap on the boil; the last batch of the season.
Jack said he collected well over 150 gallons of big leaf maple sap this winter. He only had a few bottles of syrup left from all that and gave us taste.
Holy Moly! Ken said it would be good to pour over ice cream just to cut the sweet!
We came home with two small bottles of the local goodness!
I’m still deciding between french toast, waffles or pancakes for breakfast this morning — but no matter what ends up on our plate, you can bet it will be smothered in west coast, big leaf maple syrup!
Pretty darn exciting if you ask me.