For the second year in a row we joined my sister and her husband and two other families for a trip to Beantown Ranch (http://www.beantownranch.com/) for the Cabane A Sucre experience. (This was now a couple weekends ago… I’m getting slow on my posts. I seem to be doing other things than writing with my free time.)
Growing up in southern Ontario, “sugaring off” was always something that was noted in the spring. There were sugar bushes to visit – I think the nearest one to us was in Paisley, as well as Maple Syrup Festivals. And while I was certainly aware of where Maple Syrup came from and when it came when I was young, we didn’t really take part in any of the festivals.
The Cabane a Sucre experience is a little bit different than the Maple Syrup Festivals of my youth. It is more centred around a meal. A meal in which you get many traditional breakfast foods. A meal which can be happily called the “plate O’ brown” as, other than pickles, there are no vegetables in sight (unless you count the home fries!). There are also many different variations on pork products including ham, sausage, and the best – pork rinds – which, I think, are just a VERY crispy form of bacon (deep fried bacon?!), eggs and of course, pancakes, on which you can pour your maple syrup. If this isn’t enough, there’s sugar pie for dessert. It’s all a very yummy and decadent meal, not haute cuisine – but good, nonetheless. As a lover of brunch you don’t have to ask me twice.
After the meal they offer rides on a horse drawn wagon through a loop through the forest, past some trees tapped in the traditional way, with spigots and buckets which ends with a maple taffy treat, spread out on ice and then rolled up with a stick.
For the two year olds in the crowd (of which we had three) – the horse ride is AMAZING. It was so fun to see their eyes light up at the sight of the horses. The entire process of riding on the wagon was just fascinating to them. It’s funny, because it’s not like I ride on a wagon pulled by horses very often either (like once a year, at the sugar bush!) – but it’s just so lovely to see these things through their eyes. It is definitely one of the big joys of having children!
The best moment of all came when we got into the shack for the maple taffy. It was being given out by an older gentleman with a white beard and a ‘coon skin hat. He had on pants with suspenders and a red shirt. The Boy looked at him with big eyes and asked “IS THAT SANTA?” He couldn’t believe it. He’s been looking for Santa ever since Christmas and couldn’t believe that he had finally found him! We told him that he would have to ask him if he was Santa when it was our turn. When we finally got to the front of the line the Boy was watching the man’s every move. We gave him a prompt – “ask the man your question” And he did – “Are you Santa?” The man just nodded and we said – “wow! it IS Santa” – and his day was made. So there you have it. Santa moonlights making maple taffy in the off season.
So, Cabane a Sucre – a fun eastern Ontario/Quebec tradition. I know that we’ll be taking our kid for many years to come.