The steam is warm and sweet with the fire crackling and turning the stovepipe red. The remains of winter can be heard dripping and slipping from the smooth metal of the roof above. The dogs dart in and out of the sugarhouse, skidding on the wet snow turned ice, showing off their latest finds in the collection of sugarwood and scraps. It’s our second sugar season and we’ve been returning home to collect sap and boil as our work schedules in the kingdom permit. Our arch is smaller than we had planned, purchased last year in a bit of a rush after we had waited too long in our search for a larger arch. The half pint arch and pans we have take up less room than we had accounted for in the layout of the sugarhouse, but this has been a blessing in that it provides more room for friends, family, and pets with a couple benches, a table, even two upholstered chairs. We’ve created a mini library, played games between loading the stove, and shared meals inside the sugarhouse. During the summer we’ve even slept on a futon in the sugarhouse. D did an amazing job building the place a couple falls ago. I helped minimally, mostly just making the wind braces. And I made the wind braces backwards. We’ve made maybe a couple gallons of maple syrup so far this year from the 30 or so buckets we’ve got scattered amongst the trees. It’s been made with a lot of driving – a couple days where we could get back home together and a couple days where D returned on a day off and got the fires going. So here’s to many more years in the sugarhouse!