With the onset of spring come thoughts of maple syrup.

This is the day of water fountains and soft drinks. Let’s go back a few years — in fact, a few of these things may still be here yet.

Think of the large sugar trees. Some grew on the south slopes and some grew on the north slopes.

February is the month for sugar water. You say how can you get sugar water from an old sugar tree? Some folks don’t know sugar water comes from maple trees. The weather has to be thawing so the sap is going back into the tree.

First, find a large sugar maple tree, the larger the tree the better. Take along a large bucket.

Then, find an elderberry bush and cut off a limb one inch thick or better and about 18 inches long. Push out the soft insides we call pith.

Next, take a brace and bit and bore a hole in the sugar tree, sloping a bit upward.

Drill three to four inches deep, then insert the elderberry bush spout prepared earlier. This hole should be high enough so a large bucket will slip under it.

It will do better on the south side of the tree.

When all is in place, put the bucket underneath the spout and wait. If the weather is too cold, no water will run, but if the weather is warm, or a day is sunny, the water will run sometimes for several days.

Every day you gather the sugar water and bring it in to be boiled down into syrup or sugar. The season for maple syrup is not very long. When the sap goes up and stays up in the tree, that is the end of maple syrup until next year.

A lot has been written about the National Maple Syrup Festival that was in Brown County for the second year in a row. This was a very good opportunity for you to get a firsthand look at modern-day harvesting of the sugar water, the boiling process and the finished product.

With directions in this article, perhaps you can try your hand at gathering a little sugar water and boiling it into maple syrup. Remember, it does take a lot of sugar water and patience to generate a little bit of syrup.

— Pauline Hoover, Brown County Historical Society