Have you ever made maple syrup? The following is an essay that I wrote Jan. 31, 1946, for my high school sophomore English class assignment:

Each year about the first of February we put away everything else but the daily chores and go all-out toward making maple syrup.

The kind of weather best suited for tapping is nights that are cold enough to freeze the sap and days warm enough to thaw it out. This brings a better flow.

The first step is to find something suitable for spouts, or spigots. Either cane or elder may be used. We usually use elder. The joints are sawed out and the pith removed.

Using a one-half-inch bit, a hole is bored, slanting upward, into the maple tree. It should reach through the sap layer of the tree and be about three to four feet above the ground.

A notch cut in the top of the spout holds the bucket or jug handle.

Gallon glass jugs are better for catching the juice because of their smaller mouth which allows less trash to fall in.

Collecting the sap is fun early in the morning, but later on, in the day, the chore is somewhat different. The ground has thawed about three inches deep by then and you almost have to tie your overshoes on.

The cooperative woodpeckers have the trees sufficiently tapped above and when the sap falls on your head, your hair gets wet and sticky.

Sometimes the ants are thick and crawl from the tree down the spout and into the jug. One preventative for this is to tie a strip of cloth covered with insect powder around the spout. Be careful to remove this if it looks like rain because the poison could run down into the jug.

The sap is collected and poured into barrels until there is enough to boil down in the tin vat. On average, it takes forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of rather thin syrup. On a fair day, a large tree may flow five gallons of sap, which will make one-tenth of a gallon of syrup.

We seldom tap more than a dozen trees, but the syrup we get from them is a great help during this time of sugar shortage.

When the sap is raw and has just run out of the tree it has a very weak sweet taste. Usually, when it is cooked in the open at home the syrup has a smoked taste. It isn't bad though after you think of all the hard work that has gone into making it.

When eaten on hot waffles the flavor is very sweet, yet mild and satisfying. Sometimes we put it in ice cream. It gives a nut flavor to the milk and is really wonderful on hot, dry summer days.