Henry David Thoreau
Ice at the Edge of Pond
Gathering sap in a maple sugar camp
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Brooks, of the North Quarter, tells me that he went a-fishing at Nagog
Pond on the 18th and found the ice from thirty to thirty-seven inches
thick (the greater part, or all but about a foot, snow ice), the snow
having blown on to the ice there. He measured it with a rule and a
hooked stick. (But at Walden, where I measured, there was no drifting
of the snow.) It may have been no thicker at Nagog on an average.
He says that both the gray squirrel and the red eat pine seed, but not in company. The former have been quite common about his house the past winter, and his neighbor caught two in his yard.
It is worth the while to know that there is all this sugar in our woods, much of which might be obtained by using the refuse wood lying about, without damage to the proprietors, who use neither the sugar nor the wood.
I left home at ten and got back before twelve with two and three quarters pints of sap, in addition to the one and three quarters I found collected.
I put in saleratus and a little milk while boiling, the former to neutralize the acid, and the latter to collect the impurities in a skum. After boiling it till I burned it a little, and my small quantity would not flow when cool, but was as hard as half-done candy, I put it on again, and in a minute it was softened and turned to sugar.
Had a dispute with Father about the use of my making this sugar when I knew it could be done and might have bought sugar cheaper at Holden's. He said it took me from my studies. I said I made it my study; I felt as if I had been to a university.
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