The Sugar Season

sugar season cover image The Sugar Season

by Douglas Whynott
Da Capo Press
Hardcover, 304 pages

Last year we snow-shoed into Rick & Janet Dale’s Highland Valley sugar bush.  With us was, Donatus, out stalwart guide from Tanzania. He was as game in the snowy northwoods as we were on his turf in the Ngorogoro Crater.
Here, Douglas Whynott asks us to picture a team of horses pulling a wooden wagon on skids through the snowy woods hauling buckets of maple sap to the sugar shack to be boiled into syrup. Empty replacement bags hang from the spigots tapped into the trees that make up the sugar bush. This late winter/early spring ritual is a part of the agricultural lore in our neck of the woods as well as that of Vermont and New Hampshire.  It is New England that Whynott covers in this exploration of the maple syrup process.

In The Sugar Season, Whynott, who teaches writing at Emerson College and lives in Langdon, NH, offers us a wide-ranging look inside the maple syrup business, from the ground level of small and large New England producers right on up the supply chain to buyers and distributors who package the product for supermarket shelves around the world. Whynott’s engaging book offers a skillful and fascinating peek behind the curtain of one of the region’s oldest and most beloved traditional industries.