Life: Vermont’s spring fling

For me, the first sign of spring is the collection of maple syrup.Driving past maple trees donned with buckets makes me smile with the knowledge of warmer weather.    In my home state of Maine, maple syrup is the first spring crop.When the days are warmer and the nights less chilly, buds form on branches and the sap is then gathered and boiled, giving us something delectable to slather on our pancakes. It is the height of maple syrup season and Vermonters are starting to feel frantic.    There is a short window of opportunity to collect the syrup: the nights have to be cold to freeze the sap and the days must be warm to enable it to flow. Anne Rose, owner of the Green Mountain Sugar House, is knowledgeable of this fact and explains why Vermont is one of the world’s major syrup producers.”Vermont has been producing syrup for hundreds of years,” she said. “The state is filled with maple trees.”The Green Mountain Sugar House has been in her family since it started in 1985. Her  parents founded it and she kept the tradition going.”My mother and father collected syrup and now I collect the syrup,” she said. “It’s difficult to get away from it because it’s such a major aspect of people’s favorite breakfast foods.”It’s sort of nice to think about a family of syrup collectors. I’d like to think that their house smells like maple sugar and their fingers are always sticky.When one thinks of maple syrup, connections to Vermont and Maine are instantly drawn, leaving breakfasters across America looking for a little maple syrup on the table.   The smell of pancakes and waffles invite the mouth to salivate for syrup — for most, there is no other way to eat those foods.I am a traitor to my New England upbringing when it comes to breakfast. I hope I never have to host a pancake feast because, knowing my taste buds, the only type of syrup on the table will be in the curvy form of an old housewife: Mrs. Butterworth’s.Some may chastise my childish and immature taste in syrup, but I just shrug and pour.Regardless of your personal taste in pancake syrup, be it Aunt Jemimah or ShelburneFarms, you can use the real thing in other ways as well.Try a side dish of maple-roasted carrots or drizzle some on your next bowl of vanilla ice cream — make it Ben & Jerry’s — and you’ll have a double dose of Vermont’s finest.