Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sugar on snow

Have you ever been to the “Sugar on Snow Festival” in Beaver Bay, Minnesota? Me neither. But there really is such a thing and damn if it doesn’t sound like a helluva good time.

The “arctic blast” was a bust, but we finally got our snow – three whole inches! It’s beautiful. Funny how a few ice crystals can transform the landscape so completely. I took a bunch of pictures -- all of the photos here on this post. I went sledding on the neighborhood hill with a horde of rascally schoolboys. I went on a long walk in the woods and played snowball fetch with the dog.

Tonight this crazy storm cloud came roaring over the hill and dumped an inch of icy hail-snow on us. The clouds hung dark and low and swirly – three-dimensional from the bottom up and fierce in the blue-grey center, but with the blue sky curling around the pinked edges and oh so magical. I imagined strapping on my cross-country skis and heading to a big old log lodge in the sky. There’s something about a log structure – I’d take one over a fancy resort condo any day.

We also made maple syrup candy – known in Beaver Bay as “Jack Wax.”

Jack Wax is quick and tasty. Heat pure maple syrup in a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove to about 230-degrees (test with a candy thermometer or on a cool plate -- when done it will thicken very quickly). Pour small amounts of the candied syrup into a dish of packed snow – or as the boys like best -- just make a little pile of snow in the yard and pour the hot syrup directly onto it, scooping the Jack Wax up in mittoned hands and shoveling into the mouth in the most uncivilized manner possible.

“Pick up a section of the caramel-like candy and pop it in your mouth. The combination of the super-sweet maple syrup and the slightly metallic taste of the cold fresh snow is a delightful winter treat.” --Mother Earth News

That’s such a great description – “the combination….of super-sweet….and slightly metallic.” Like kissing, all lips and teeth. Like dancing, all hands and heels. Like meeting and parting. Like lust and desire. Like heaven and hell. Like want and need.

Like fire and ice.

Like life itself.


Jeremy Edwards said...

Beautiful post!

So, let me make sure I understand correctly: "Beaver Bay" is full of "jack wax"?

Kirsten Monroe said...

That's what they say! Hot, freshly made Jack Wax! Can you imagine?

But there's more. According to news reports, there are also an abundance of donuts and pickles!

"The namesake of the festival is a treat created by reducing maple syrup over heat for several hours and then ladling it over snow from a Sno-Cone machine — cleaner that way — and serving it with a doughnut and dill pickle."