I witnessed a wonder to behold recently. Syrup making, the old way. Try a Google search of syrup-making and tell me what you find. You’ll find many things and even, perhaps, one or two where they claim to be doing it the “old way.”
However, in all of my searches (your mileage may vary) I did not come across one where a mule was hitched to a cane grinder and spent hours turning its long pole around on the pivot to create the raw syrup for boiling. Nor one where a throng of folk were gathered together for this endeavor, making it a day of togetherness, joy and obviously a passion for cane’s sweet nectar.
The host of this event grows his own cane. After harvesting this cane, he keeps it high and dry so as not to spoil. Mr. Carson, as he is known, had met with my father a week earlier to cook brunswick stew and smoke some hams to make barbeque, all for this joyful enterprise. On our day of syrup making, I figure there must have been somewhere around a hundred folks who came, stayed and went.
Some were just stopping by to be friendly and others, such as myself, wanted to see the elixir as it drained into the final bottle. Upon my arrival, one of the first gents I met had me totally enamored, regaling me with tales of his grand-mama’s cooked raccoon and his overt desire for “coon” to grace his palate; much like the one warming in the oven I was standing near. Making a long and wonderful story short, one immediately gets the picture that I had a most entertaining day. Oh, and the result – sweet amber perfection!