It seems we were having a party in the sugar house! It always happens at least once every sugar season, that unplanned gathering of folks who somehow sense that we're cooking syrup, hot dogs, and fellowship.
Your age, gender, or occupation don't matter in the sugar house. It doesn't matter whether or not you know everyone else, or anyone else. It doesn't matter what you wear, as long as it's warm. And it won't matter that you'll go home with bloodshot eyes and smelling like smoke.
It doesn't even matter if you're not human.
All that matters is making sure you're standing in the path of the steam from the evaporator and not the smoke from the fire under the kettle (where you get the red eyes and the smoky smell). This makes for a constant migration in and out of the sugar house, an excellent way to get to know and visit with everyone there.
Everyone can have a turn testing the syrup with Robin's grandmother's dipper to see if it's anywhere near ready to pull off the fire.
You can't leave without having a "maple dog" in the sugar house. Once you've tasted a maple dog, no other hot dog will ever measure up. They really do taste better than hot dogs cooked any other way, but maybe the ambiance of the sugar house adds to the flavor a bit.
Even if there's no snow on the ground, we can serve up the classic sugar house dessert. Clinkers are made by pouring hot syrup over clean snow, or ice cubes in a pinch. Clinkers are similar to taffy. They stick to your teeth and taste sooo good!
And no matter how hard you try, you won't get all the sticky off until you get home and take a hot bath.
A party in the sugar house does a body good. There's something about the syrup and steam, people and conversation, laughter and relaxation that soothes the soul. And when everyone is gone and the sugar house is dark and quiet, there's a jar full of sweet memories to enjoy all year long.