When Laura was young, sweet foods were rare. One might collect maple syrup or honey. Sugar and candy had to be bought from a store and it was expensive. So very sweet foods were a special treat. In North America, maple syrup is a traditional topping for breakfast breads such as pancakes, waffles and french toast. Her father told Laura and her sister Mary how to harvest maple syrup from trees. Her father helped her grandfather collect the sap from maple trees. When the sweet watery sap is boiled down on a low heat it becomes a delicious sweet syrup.
Laura asked, "So that's why it's a sugar snow, because Grandfather is making sugar?"
"No, but close" her father said. "It's called a sugar snow, because a snow at this time of year means that men can collect more sap and make more maple sugar. You see, this short cold weather and the snow will slow the growth of leaves on the trees and that means that the maple tree will make more sap. We just take a little sap from a very big tree to make maple syrup.
When there's a lot of sap, it means that Grandfather can make enough maple sugar to last all the year, for common everyday use. When he takes his animal skins and furs to town to sell, he will not need to buy very much expensive sugar from the store. He will buy only a little store sugar, to have on the table when guests come."
"Grandfather must be glad there's a sugar snow," Laura said.
"Yes," her father said, "he's very glad. He's going to ‘sugar-off’, or have a maple-sugar-making party, again next Monday and he says we must all come. This time he will make a big family party out of it and there will be a...." (To be continued next time.)