This is the time of year when the sap starts running in the sugar maple trees. Freezing cold nights followed by warm days wakes the trees up and the clear, sweet sap drips out when they are tapped. I like to bend down and open my mouth under the spiles to drink the sap directly from its source, my hands holding the rough bark for balance, half thawed mud covered with half decayed brown leaves underfoot, squishy, and slippery on the steep hill. Its a delicate sweetness, as the sap is mostly water, cold and pure straight from the ground. Down on the porch sap is boiling in a big pot surrounded by a make-shift plywood wind break. Every once and while there is a puff of maple syrup smell blowing by in the breeze. I find great pleasure standing over that boiling pot and letting the steam bathe my face in maple goodness. The wet heat of the steam tingles on my skin, billowing velvety around my head, enveloping me in a divine cloud of aromatic ambrosia. If you drive around with your car window open, you can always find the active sap houses by the way the air smells. Look to see steam billowing out the top of the copula. It is somewhat mind blowing to realize that all the real maple syrup for the whole year for the whole world is being produced right now, fill our little corner of it with the tantalizing silky sweetness of pure maple!