Writing and Maple Syrup

Writing for me has always been a bit like making maple syrup. As a kid growing up in Vermont, my mom would send me and my sisters out into the freezing cold armed only with hammers, spigots, hooks and buckets. After hours of work, and a few smashed fingers, about twelve of our Maple trees would begin the drip by drip process of filling our cavernous steel-grey buckets. Only after an agonizingly long period….I was eight and never very patient….would we have enough sap to try and make some syrup. I still remember my despair upon learning that it took 86 gallons of sap to make a gallon of tasty syrup. It did not seem very fair, but my mom reminded me that all good things took hard work, time, and the involvement of many like-minded individuals. At the end of the day, I enjoyed that syrup and maple candy….enough to spend weeks of work to have some, probably not. 

These days I would probably just buy some, and that is a shame because I realise now it is only the hard-work that I remember, not the syrup itself. Indeed, I lament the little-boy who loved the taste of unprocessed sap frozen straight from the tree. So too do I recall the strange sensation when my tongue stuck to the metal spigot as I crunched down on the icy sap. 

Writing is much the same. Much of what I write is “sap”. Certainly,most scholars only dare reveal to the world their syrup, and there is nothing wrong with that, but there is much to be enjoyed in one’s sap

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