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  • Writer's picturezoarsyrup

The Terroir of 2020--Taking It Personal

Updated: Apr 11, 2021


Don’t take it personal, they said;

but I did, I took it all quite personal—

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;

the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain—

And I cursed what hurt me

and I praised what gave me joy,

the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,

with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,

with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness

Think first, they said of Talk

Get over it, they said

at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t

believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture

served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I believe in saying it all

and taking it all back

and saying it again for good measure

while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries

like wheeling birds

and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me

for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon

disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;

barking and barking:

trying to convince everything else

to take it personal too.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2009)

I was reminded of this poem recently--posted by a friend on social media a year or two ago. The rawness and the intensity with which the author is living life stayed with me, and reminded me of this year, and the unfiltered nature of, well, everything. Taking things personal seems akin to terroir--absorbing then expressing the conditions around the subject. Tapatree's unique Whole Maple processing lets terroir shine, by carefully batching the flows from the forest, using the most minimal processing, and then profiling what the trees have created in response to the world around them. “Oh life! Can you blame me for making a scene?” No, no we cannot! And if ever a scene were to be made, it would be in 2020.

Summer has been a scene. In contrast to the see-saw weather of winter and spring, the summer has been extraordinarily, consistently dry on Zoar Road. The woodland paths are sandy with parched soils, the pastures are sparse of late summer grasses. Fortunately, the beavers kept their ponds well-managed, and now they are extremely popular with all the animals. We’ve seen turkeys, deer, otters, muskrats, turtles, frogs, raccoons, hosts of wading and insect-eating birds, ducks, and porcupines taking advantage. The beaver areas are also critically important for watering the forests, particularly in years of drought. It is estimated that there is nearly five times as much water below beaver ponds as in them. This sort of reserve is clearly an essential component to establishing some climate change resilience, and we are very happy to have our furry engineers “on staff.”

Maybe due to the dryness, fruits are delicious this year, and Paul and I have been making shrub which will be on the website shortly--strawberry, red currant, and peach--for your sipping pleasure. For the uninitiated, shrub is a pre-refrigeration drinking syrup, and traces its origins to Persia (sharab). It is a three-ingredient delicacy: Tapatree Whole Maple Syrup, the juice of fresh fruit, and vinegar strained into a delicious elixir. Perfect for flavoring flat or sparkling water, or mixed into an array of cocktails, shrubs will quickly become essential bar stock! Tapatree is focussing on local fruits for freshness and to support our farming community. While most commercial shrubs are currently made with cane sugar, the more common sweetener in early North America was maple, and we think it really enhances the flavors of the fruit. A healthy alternative to soda, and a super interesting ingredient for mixologists...stay tuned!

2020 batched "pandemic" syrups have been very popular! Although the number of batches was considerably smaller, the flavors are out of this world. The trees took on the challenges of the year and created some amazing tones. Check them out to make sure you stock the larder and the gift cabinet before the chilly days arrive! While you’re at it, Paul has a lovely Tapatree Whole Maple for Tea on the shelf which polishes up your cold glass of ice tea or early morning green tea. Super soluble, it will never be sitting in a lump on the bottom of your glass or cup, nor will it turn your tea cloyingly sweet. It’s perfect for lifting the tea notes while soothing your palate. (And don't worry, Tapatree Whole Maple for Coffee is always on the shelf for you coffee drinkers!)

SO like the river moving immutably downstream, the train rolling down its tracks calling its lonely whistle into the night, life is moving forward and September is looming before us. Coronavirus, elections, border closures, canceled travel plans, withheld social events, foregone hugs, stymied schooling, droughts, deaths, and all the rest. Can you blame me for making a scene? We cannot. We can just encourage you to take the rich and poignant tastes of 2020 with you...a drizzle here and there seizes the full color and intensity of this world we are living in and makes the terroir of 2020 a part of the fabric of your being. We encourage you to take it all personal.

Cheers from Zoar Road--stay safe and be kind, all!

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