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or so; their luxuriant crowns making a cool twilight under the hottest summer sun, and their straight and polished shafts giving, in the glittering winter moonlight, no faint idea of those remaining columns of the fanes of old, so fraught with associations of
and elegance to the mind of the classic traveller. We say little about their beauty, although it is probable that even here, that is not without a degree of its own benign influence; but happy he whose far-reaching "eighties” enclose a sugar-bush !
A thousand miles from the ocean, even brown Havanas cost money; and I believe it may
be asserted that all the world like sugar. A late traveller tells us that his wild kervash -a being to whom one might have supposed a Cossack girdle of raw pork would have been the more acceptable dainty-would bury his fingers in a plate of sugar, and devour it by the handful; and we have ourselves known a grave philosopher from whom his lady declared she should be obliged to lock up her sugar-barrel. In these western shades, to which sugars from abroad come burdened with many a profit, the taste is quite as conspicuous; and the primitive resources of wild honey and maple sugar are much sought after. Honey, though very valuable, is not
so universally adapted to the taste, and therefore takes only the second place. The sap of the soft-maple is used for a variety of household purposes besides making sugar, so that what is called the sugar season—somewhere about the month of March—is looked upon as a time of domestic hilarity; and if the season prove favourable, no pains are spared to secure all its advantages. This implies no small effort, for no one makes a business of sugar-making, important as it is. It is an affair of expedients and special provision, year after year; managed just in that disadvantageous jack-of-all-trades sort of way with many other operations in a thinly-peopled region, where every body engages in every thing.
The Indians used almost to monopolize the trade in maple sugar. The mococks, or bark panniers, in which they brought the sugar to market, were pretty objects at least, and the sugar itself brought them something towards their wretched living. The manufacture just suited them; a week's labour to a month's rest is quite enough for an Indian. But rumours got afloat that the red men boiled their food-musk-rats for instance in the kettle of sap, during the sugar-making process; and some said too that they used their blankets for strainers-all which contributed to bring the sugar into bad odour-an unavoidable pun, reader !)--so there was one means of whisky-buying the less for the poor wretches, before they left us.
Their first successor in the woods, the pioneer, without sympathy for them personally, seems yet to have imbibed, perhaps from the forest air, somewhat of their love of roving, their desire of freedom from restraint, their dislike of continuous labour, and their preference for such as promises a speedy return, however small. Going into the sugarbush has something of the excitement which the forester loves so well to mingle, whenever and wherever he can, with all his work. A dash of uncertainty—a chance of failure relieves the tedium of mere labour. An enterprise, in the success of which luck is to have its share, is always undertaken with more zest, as the hunter would lose half the pleasure of the chase if he were sure of bagging the game.
But what can luck have to do with sugarmaking ? The trees cannot run away-the axe will cut-the gouge will pierce--the troughs will hold-fire will burn—sap will boil. True; but the sun is fitful, and will not always shine just enough and not too
much, nor the frost come always at night and stay away by day. It may be too warm to freeze, or too cold to thaw. It is this regular alternation that brings delight to the sugarboiler; for it is only in the freezing process that the sap is accumulated, and in the thawing that it is given out. Nor is this all for which we look to luck. The sap is sometimes not so nectarious as it should be, and so yields less than its forty-eighth of the delicious sweet which the man of kettles claims as his due; and for an inferior yield luck gets always the blame.
But when he “lots” of a good season, he reaps a rich reward for his labour. The breaking up of winter, when the frozen earth and frozen trees begin to feel the sun's genial influence, is the propitious period. Winters of abundant snow are more particularly favourable, as more frequent changes of temperature usually attend its departure. In this case, the sugar-maker sets forth with lively hopes, and works indefatigably in preparing his troughs, in which labour his only aid is his faithful axe, with which he will scoop out two dozen a day. This done, he selects the fairest trees-hacks them after a peculiar fashion (opinions conflict on this important point), and then places a bark con
selle has made her fingers sticky with la tire.
This family of maple is very numerous. Nearly forty species are known, of which ten belong to the United States. The climate of New England is peculiarly favourable to their growth, as is shown by the perfection to which several of the most valuable species attain. The red maple is most remarkable for the varying colour of its leaves, which greatly beautify forest scenery. The leaves begin to turn, in the latter part of summer and during the earlier part of autumn, from green to a deep crimson or scarlet. The forests of no other country present so beautiful a variety of colouring as our own; even corresponding climates with the same families bear no comparison. The difference is said to depend on the greater transparency of our atmosphere, and consequently greater intensity of the light; for the same cause which renders a much larger number of stars visible by night, and which clothes our flowering plants with more numerous flowers, and those of deeper, richer tints, gives somewhat of tropical splendour to our really colder parallels of latitude.
Of this extended family, the rock maple in all respects is the most remarkable. While young, it is justly admired for its