On many a relaxed weekend morning, I will expectantly open a kitchen cupboard hoping to find a box with sufficient pancake mix to provide a substantial complement to bacon or sausage and a cup of dark-roast coffee. The treat is not in the batter, but in the contents of a bottle of maple syrup produced near my mother’s home in southern Vermont. That syrup will make the breakfast fit for a king.
Sweet as it is, the experience is now bittersweet, because I wonder how long the stately, fecund trees – producing sap in the spring and vibrant colors in the fall, living perhaps 400 years – will survive the changing climate.
On a recent trip to Vermont I visited a sugar house, saw sap flowing through tubes winding through the forest to an immaculate, modern sugaring operation, saw the sugar content of the sap measured precisely, saw the syrup drawn from the vat at the perfect moment. I sampled syrup bottled only moments before. Heavenly! According to the sugar man, it has been a prolific year. But there is a caveat: if the warm winters continue, the trees will die.
So I have become active in fighting global warming. I want to ensure that my daughter, Scorsha, will have the pleasure for many years to come of syrup on pancakes on an easy Sunday morning.