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(A short story of 2588 words)

Jack Wax


by Sarah Passingham

For nearly all her life, Marion has dreamed of the North Woods and eating maple syrup, snow-frozen into Jack Wax, but an innocent trip turns into an obsession.

‘This is it,’ Glynn says as they stop the skidoos and the whine of the engines evaporates like mist on the hills. ‘This is the sugar bush.’ He turns to look at them. ‘You ready to start tapping?’

Tom says he’s happy to wait where he is; he has his new Luger binoculars and is hoping to see a bobcat, but Marion follows Glynn and Sue as they walk in amongst the sugar maples to look for trees to tap. On this bright, clean morning, she feels as if she’s found the place she was meant to be; where her soul fits as snug as a bung in a brandy barrel.
Glynn gives Marion a cordless drill and guides her hand. He shows her how to push a metal tap through the bark and attach a line of plastic tubing which snakes along the ground like a web of translucent veins connecting each tree, gathering all the sap into a holding tank outside the sugar house.

It’s all so very different from the pictures of horse drawn sleds and a smoking sugar shack on the maple syrup tin that Marion has in her house in England. When she’d poured the last drops of syrup on her porridge, she had carefully washed it clean and placed it on the mantelpiece of the room where she keeps the accounts for a dozen local, muddy farms.
For nearly all her life, Marion has dreamed of the North Woods. From her first wondering taste of maple syrup as a child – a present from a Canadian airforce officer, a friend of her father’s from the war – she has been obsessed by the subtlety of its flavours, its purity and the trees from which it comes...

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