By Sarah Bennett

Admit it, you pancake-heart jugs of liquid sweetness, too!

Most people flock to New England to see the leaves change in the fall and flee it around this time of year when mud season sets in. As the ground thaws, it turns to wet, brown cement, and even if all you do outdoors in a day is walk to and from your car, you will end up with wet grit all over your shoes and somewhere on your clothes (like baby vomit is for new moms, finding exactly where you have it on you at the end of the day, since you will have it somewhere, turns into a sad/fun game).  

Yes, leaves are pretty and mud is annoying, but skipping New England right now means you’re going to miss sugaring season: that magical time of year when the maple trees, who once displayed the prettiest foliage, now dispense the most golden of syrups known to man. In New Hampshire a wave of warmer temperatures have gotten the season started right, which is a big change from last year when a heat wave followed by a freeze lead to a poor harvest and a syrup shortage (prices went up, the Canadians had a whole scandal, pancakes everywhere suffered -- it wasn’t good).  

There isn’t as much to see during sugaring season—most people don’t find anything particularly exciting about driving by the woods and seeing a bunch of trees adorned with buckets and tubes—but this time of year isn’t about looking at the source of the sap but going to an open house at a sugaring shack where you can try free samples and do syrup shots, stuff your face with maple cotton candy, and basically consume enough sweet maple product to make you pull one of those buckets off a tree and barf into it. has a convenient map of New England sugar shacks, some of which are fairly convenient to New York if you don’t mind the short trip to Western Mass. If you’re willing to make the schelp, however, my favorite is Ben’s, which is my local in southern New Hampshire. They aren’t on the map, but if you go to their website you can buy their delicious syrup online (although sampling it until you get sick is a lot more fun). Either way, a trip up north for sugaring season done right can be like a wine tour for sweetness, except with less drunkeness and more dirt.