It’s a mouth-watering, sweet time of year right now. Spring doesn’t just mean warmer weather and new life; it also means it’s maple syrup time!

I love driving around and seeing the steam rising up from the bushes, or the trees people have tapped in their yards as a mini project for themselves and families. It’s such a great outdoor activity to do together.

Making maple syrup has been a Barton family tradition for numerous generations. As I was growing up, my grandfather spent endless hours back at the sugar camp keeping a watchful eye over his boiling syrup. Now my oldest cousin has taken over the task – keeping up the tradition for the newest generation to continue to enjoy.

Being a mother seems to continuously bring back many fond memories from my childhood. We spent so much time back in the bush growing up. Memories of sleigh rides with my dad’s Clydesdale horses – getting stuck in the snow and spilling sap down our fronts, as we desperately tried to prove to the adults that we could pour the five-gallon pails into the tank – come rushing back every year.

As I watch my little man splash through the puddles and get stuck in the mud, I remember the days when we would lose our boots and have to sit by the hot boiler to warm our feet and dry our socks. Of course, nothing beats the sweet smell of fresh boiling syrup fused with the wood smoke floating through the air.

Being fortunate enough to grow up so close together, our family has always gotten together for holidays, birthdays and of course maple syrup season. Any excuse we could find allowed us to get together and enjoy each other’s company. COVID-19 has put our family gatherings on hold. It hasn’t been easy – especially because I want my little minion to grow up knowing his extended family and to be able to make the same memories with them as I did.

I am extremely grateful that, even though the sap-collecting season seems to be getting shorter and shorter every year, the gang still goes to all the effort to tap the trees and boil it into syrup. It gives us a somewhat safer place to gather, work together, share laughter and continue to make memories. Although we may not be able to share a communal snow trough of taffy, it still wouldn’t be a spring without watching the youngsters push each other into puddles and lose their boots in the mud.

Being close to my family is an extremely important part of who I am and I want my son to grow up feeling the same love only a close-knit family can give him. Thankfully this sweet time of year gives us the opportunity to give him that, even if he can’t get hugs and kisses from everyone. He’s probably okay with it anyways – there’s no time for cuddles when there’s work to be done and puddles to play in!