Spring Tradition: The Pancake Breakfast

IMG_6492In my continuing celebration of spring and all things maple, we spent yesterday morning at a very special place—a pancake breakfast!

My cousins own and operate a sugarhouse that has been going strong for three generations. For 44 (!) springs, they have worked with the local square dance club to host an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast that is a tradition for people all over the North Country.

IMG_6488 When we arrive, the rural road is lined with cars and trucks, and folks of all ages are streaming toward the sugarhouse and the smell of pancakes. IMG_6538

We pass by an avenue of ancient maples wearing their battered sap buckets; I like the contrast of this symbol of spring and rebirth and newness contrasted with the cemetery beyond.

IMG_6488 - Version 2 IMG_6481It’s cold and rainy outside but the inside of the sugarhouse is warm and steamy and noisy. We greet family members and neighbors get caught up with neighbors.

IMG_6490The evaporator dominates the scene inside—this is where the syrup is made. The process needs attending to, hence the rockers, to provide the tenders with comfort and companionship.

IMG_6496 IMG_6493A huge mural by the family artist honors the way the sap was traditionally collected.IMG_6501

Today, though, it’s all about the food.

Pancakes and sausages are really only a vehicle for maple syrup.

IMG_6514Young runners keep the pancakes coming.

IMG_6507Almost no one leaves without getting some syrup or maple sugar or maple butter to take home.

IMG_6519The sugarhouse also serves as a museum of sorts, with lovely old artifacts of the history of sugaring down.

This fragment of an old maple shows signs of having been tapped many times over many, many years.IMG_6525

We eat our pancakes, we visit with relatives, we commiserate about the winter, we welcome spring.

The pancake breakfast is over and we immediately begin to look forward to next year!



39 thoughts on “Spring Tradition: The Pancake Breakfast

  1. Wow, what an event! I wonder how many pancakes were consumed over the weekend…they look delicious drizzled with that maple syrup and sausages on the side. I think I’m getting hungry now…

  2. Thanks for the great post! Love the sugar camp photos and all the rest! Loved my visit to a sugar camp…which included a pancake breakfast. There is nothing like REAL maple syrup!

  3. What a wonderful, wonderful celebration. I can smell the pancakes and syrup all the way over here. The photo with the syrup buckets and the cemetery is perfect; timeless, ageless, tradition, community…it’s all there.

    • Isn’t it wonderful?! All the details make me smile–and it’s accurate. They still go out to tap the trees on snowshoes and used to use horses to bring in the sap.

  4. Yum, this sounds like a delicious morning! I love pancakes, and I always eat them with maple syrup 🙂 What a lovely tradition, and I can’t believe they’ve been doing that for 44 years! I really love the leaf shaped botttles too xx

    • Those bottles are so pretty! We always buy the big boring plastic jugs, because they’re more economical, but visitors LOVE the pretty ones. I’m looking forward to the 50th anniversary in a few years!

    • I like every detail of it–there’s a bunch of old fellas making the pancakes and they are smart alecks and having fun. Lots of good people watching, too!

  5. What a marvelous tradition! Family & Friends, Pancakes/Sausage & Maple Syrup, Mementoes of seasons past & the young people participating & learning the traditions! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Oh Kerry! What an amazing post! I loved it! No, more than that I feel I was there with you! I now want pancakes and did you see the bottles of maple syrup in the shape of a maple leaf? Of course you did………
    Knowing your family history and connection with Maple Syrup production I am so glad that you participated in the fabulous family event.
    Sometimes, you just have to admit that life is pretty amazing.-Karen

    • Life IS pretty amazing and I love that I’m back living where I grew up and able to participate in all this. Those little glass bottles are very lovely but we always buy the big jugs so we can use a lot on our pancakes! Thanks for taking the photo tour with me and for always being so kind and supportive, Karen!

  7. Yum, that’s my kind of tradition! Do you use the maple butter for baking? I’ve never heard of it before. And I like how those pancakes look, over here we have the thinner ones.

  8. This is so interesting. It has never really occurred to me wonder how maple syrup gets “made” – probably because the whole pancake thing is not as big in Australia as it is here. I remember how popular the first “Pancake on…” restaurant was when it opened in Sydney – such a novelty. I *love* the photo of the rockers! I’ll bet there was some wonderful chin-wagging amongst the attenders 🙂

    • I think the chin-wagging is an essential part of the tradition! I know my father and grand-dad their share back in the day, while they tended our fires. The whole process is very time consuming and explains why real maple syrup is so expensive. More about all this next year!

  9. Fascinating tour. Thanks for taking us along. It looks warm and inviting (I can almost smell the sausages). I must have missed out on this event when I lived in the North Country.

    • How fun that you’re here and speaking up! Thanks for commenting, Carol! You, know, I seriously think you should be blogging . . . you tell such great stories!

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