Childhood Travel Memories: Tapping Maple Trees in Michigan
Whenever I think about spring in Michigan, my mind always takes me to a happy childhood memory when we would travel to my grandfather’s house to collect sap from the massive sugar maple trees around his property. I don’t know the particular species of his trees, but they were so large that two adults would have difficulty wrapping their arms around them.
My grandparents lived in Alaska, Michigan (just outside of Grand Rapids) and each spring, as the temperatures would warm above freezing during the day, and then below freezing again at night, you were certain to find several metal buckets hanging from each of my grandfather’s towering maples.
In the back corner of my grandparent’s property, my grandfather had an old quonset hut where he kept his Allis-Chalmers tractor, wagons, tools of every sort, and in the early spring, his wood-fired maple syrup stove. I’ll never forget the warmth of the fire and the wonderfully sweet smell of the boiling sap. You see, you had to boil down 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
On saturday morning early-spring visits, my grandfather and I would load his wheelbarrow with two large galvanized containers and make the rounds collecting the clear, sweet sap from each of the buckets hanging from the trees. Hah…I also remember that grandpa’s quonset hut is where he sneak a smoke of the cigarettes he had hidden from grandma. Grandma would harp on him to no end if she caught him smoking. :O He made me promise not to tell.
But the best memory of all was grandma’s homemade waffles with grandpa’s homemade maple syrup filling up each and every square of my waffle. Hmmmm …. how I’d love to have one of those right now!
When I was a kid, we didn’t have the money to travel much, but I’ll never forget the wonderful memories of traveling to Alaska, Michigan to collect maple syrup with my grandfather.
How ’bout you? Do you have any favorite childhood travel memories?