Saturday, May 25, 2013
SKOWHEGAN -- Nancy Pooler breathed in the sweet, steamy scent of boiling sap and luxuriated in the moment.
Staff Photo by Gregory Rec
"It's just sensational," she said.
Pooler and her sister, Ann Pelletier of Winslow, were standing in the steamy Smith Brothers sugar house on Rowe Road Sunday, tasting tiny spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream topped with a drizzle of maple syrup.
It was Maine Maple Sunday, when people come from near and far the fourth Sunday in March to visit maple syrup producers, celebrate the harvest and sample everything from candy to maple cream dabbed on cookies.
"It's very, very good -- excellent," Pelletier said.
When the sisters were little, it was a family tradition to visit the sugar houses, they said. They passed the tradition on to their children, who are now grown and continue it also.
The Smith sugar house was busy Sunday with visitors of all ages.
Justin Robinson, 9, of Norridgewock, was nibbling on a cookie and ice cream.
"It's good," he declared.
He was with his parents, Robert and Kelley Robinson, brother Zachary, 13, and grandmother Rose Collins.
They said they always go to smith Brothers first on their tour of maple sugar houses.
"The people here are nice," Robert said. "The syrup has a unique flavor up here. It's a little sweeter tasting."
Jim Smith and his brother, Pat, own the maple syrup business, which they started 15 years ago. Jim Smith was at the evaporator, checking the syrup for density to make sure it was ready.
"The temperature will change every day so you have to keep checking it with a hydrometer," he said.
He said it was a very good season for maple syrup; the sap started running very early -- Feb. 20 -- when it usually starts around March 10.
"It was a good season, but it was really quick; very long days. It was very busy. It (sap) ran late into the night."
He said he was not sure how much maple syrup the business would produce this year, but typically it is between 500 and 1,000 gallons.
Most of their customers come from the area, he said.
"A lot of syrup is sold right out of the sugar house here. We have a few gift shops on the coast that sell it."
Smith family friend Jamie Moore was helping to hand out free samples and sell maple candy and cream, as well as syrup packaged in glass bottles and plastic jugs.
"It's awesome," a cheerful Moore said. "We started right off at 9 o'clock this morning with people coming in. We're going right at it."
Down the road, children and adults spilled out of cars and trucks parked outside Strawberry Hill Farms, which also was hosting a maple syrup event.
Amy Calder -- 861-9247