When I first came to the US, to a small liberal-arts school in Connecticut, I was sharing a house with some New Englanders who wished for some maple syrup for their pancakes. I triumphantly announced that I would bring them some from Canada, and naively waited for shouts of excitement and thanks. Canadian maple syrup, it turned out, “would have to do”, as Vermont syrup is clearly the best in the world. This, of course, is clearly ludicrous. What makes Vermont syrup so good, an abundance of natural maple forests, and both thaws and frosts in the spring, are pretty much the defining features of the majority of Ontario and all of Quebec. There is, after all, a Maple Leaf on our flag. I will go out on a limb though and suggest that Vermont and Canadian Maple Syrup are likely equivalent, and both very good.
This is why, while visiting the “Sugar and Spice” maple syrup gift shop and restaurant this morning, I kept feeling oddly transported to my home country. The home-made maple candies tasted like home. The various moose items, stamped with “Vermont”, were the same ones I have seen wearing “Quebec”, “Ontario”, “Canada”, and “Algonquin Park” tags (I can just picture the factory in China, where they add a rotating series of place names to piles and piles of moose covered pyjama bottoms.) Even the carved bears had the same expressions as the ones I encountered in Banff, although I’m willing to bet that those bears have many more wild compatriots than any in New England.
The snap, which I’m going to pretend is of maples (although I’m pretty sure it’s not), was taken out of the moving car as we headed back home. Oddly enough, the snow grew thicker and thicker, reaching its peak as we entered NYC, my new home, snow covered and cold- just like in Canada.