For a week, my grandfather had been busy collecting sap from buckets that hung below taps placed in his maple trees. The sap had been filtered and deposited in a huge vat which sat on a grate over a roaring fire. When the sap had boiled down to maple syrup consistency, it was cooled and placed in containers. After reserving some for the family's use, the remainder would be sold. When the harvest had been completed for the year, it was time for the sugaring off party.
Long shallow pans were packed with snow, which was still in plentiful supply at that time of year. A portion of the sap was removed from the vat and brought into the kitchen. It was left to simmer on the stove until it reached a consistency that was much thicker than maple syrup. This boiling concoction was ladled in strips across the pans of snow. It quickly hardened and could be lifted off in strips and eaten. The maple taste was intense and extremely sweet. The best candy I have ever eaten. The table was set with plates of warm raised doughnuts and large bowls of homemade sour pickles. Not dill. Very sour. Eating one of those pickles would completely clear the sweet taste from your mouth, allowing you to indulge in more. If you hadn't sufficiently satisfied your sweet tooth, you could place one of the donuts in a small bowl and pour warm maple syrup over it. It was a sweet feast, but not one that you'd want to indulge in more than once a year.