Out of the Past

Thoreau
March 21








         

George 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.


10 A.M. -To my red maple sugar camp. Found that, after a pint and a half had run from a single tube after 3 P.M. yesterday, it had frozen about half an inch thick, and this morning a quarter of a pint more had run. Between 10.30 and 11.30 A.M. this forenoon, I caught two and three quarters pints more, from six tubes, at the same tree, though it is completely over-cast and threatening rain. Four and one half pints in all. This sap is an agreeable drink, like iced water (by chance), with a pleasant but slight sweetish taste. I boiled it down in the afternoon, and it made an ounce and a half of sugar, without any molasses, which appears to be the average amount yielded by the sugar maple in similar situations, riz, south edge of a wood, a tree partly decayed, two feet in diameter.



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.
1856
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