The Sap Bucket

by James W. Spain, Jr.


I walked the same
hundred acres that my Grandfather did
so many decades ago.

A slight fog was burning off as
I crested the hill at the center of the
property and looked out over the
hundreds of New Hampshire sugar maples.

A family tradition at first and then a
very lucrative business for my Grandfather.
Early mornings collecting the maple sap
from each tin sap bucket followed by
late nights feeding the fire in the sap house.

He was a frugal Yankee that collected every drop
of sap and mastered the art of boiling it
to a rich dark sweet amber.

At the end of each season he would take me
to the fields to collect the tin sap buckets
and gently store them in the barn until the next year.

I remember him telling me to collect each bucket
and pull all the taps from the grand trunks.
He counted the buckets and his calloused hands
treated them with respect.

I do remember his very last year, quite elderly
but still producing the best maple syrup in
the state. He was forgetting things and laboring
twice as hard as he once did.

The year he passed was difficult. Each spring I think
about the old days collecting all that the
sugar maples could give us.

I recently traveled to the old hundred acre sugar maple
lot and stood on the hill…. just remembering him with
a fondness during a nostalgic moment.

As I walked back to the main road I came upon a large
tree… lonely and quite stark without foliage so early in
the season. Hanging on the side of that tree I found a rusted
tin sap bucket still attached to a tap long grown into the trunk.

A simple rusted bucket. A very emotional moment in
the lonely deep woods that once belonged to Grandpa.
Looks like I found one of those sap buckets that he lost
that last year he worked the land.

I walked the same
hundred acres that my Grandfather did
so many decades ago.

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