One of the sweetest rituals of early spring/ late winter is maple sugaring. My husband and I met 18 years ago in a sugar house at an environmental education camp where I used to work, and we gave out local maple syrup at our wedding. Every year we tap a few trees on our small hill, and every afternoon we climb the hill to collect and carry the sap in 5 gallon buckets down to the porch where it boils in a lobster pot on a propane turkey fryer. One of the most wonderful sounds while collecting the sap happens just after emptying the small metal sap bucket and hooking it back on the spile. On a warm day following a freezing night the sap runs clear, strong, and steady. One drip at a time, falling from the end of the spile, rhythmically hitting the bottom of the bucket. Ping, ping, ping, ping. When you stand in the middle of 10 bare sugar maple trees that have just had their sap buckets emptied, there is faintly audible delicious chorus, filling the air with mesmerizing metallic music, tantalizing the ears, and exciting the taste buds. Ponk, ponk, ponk/ pling, pling, pling/ doink, doink, doink/ plunk…, plunk…, plunk…/ pank…, pank…, pank… Surrounded by dripping sap that will soon be homemade maple syrup: amber, sticky, naturally sweet. Perfect!