Sugaring spout enthusiast releases new book - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Sugaring spout enthusiast releases new book

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As maple producers head out to tap trees this spring, they're taking part in a time-honored tradition that's benefited from centuries of experimentation and innovation. One Orange County sugarer and sap spout enthusiast has documented it all in a new book.

Hale Mattoon is setting up for another sugaring season. Sugaring runs deep in the Mattoon family, six generations tapping trees in and around the hills of Chelsea. 

"I was in preschool. I used to go with my father and thought I was a big help but probably I was more of a menace, but I thought I was helping, so it was mid-1940s," said Mattoon.

Even Mattoon's old Clydesdale, Jim, loved the sweet stuff.

"He would take his nose and he'd reach over and hit the top of that sap bucket over and the cover would pop off and he'd start to have a drink of sap," said Mattoon.

It's not just sugaring that drives him, it's also the history and paraphernalia that goes along with it.

"I guess I'm a maple memorabilia enthusiast," said Mattoon.

In the 1970s, Mattoon started collecting spouts, and more spouts, and more, a total of nearly 500 today.

From early wooden spouts of the 1700s that emptied into troughs.

"That's what these long wooden spouts would be used for," said Matttoon.

To sheet metal gouge spouts, and the cast iron revolution that followed.

"This patent was the first cast spout in 1860 by Homer Hecox in Rutland, N.Y. Very heavy, very bulky compared to later," said Mattoon.

In a new self-published book, Mattoon details the evolution of spouts through the ages.

"They were all striving for improvement. To make a sap spout that would run more sap than their competitor and be healthy for the tree," said Mattoon.

Mattoon says many of the so-called innovations today, like check-valve spouts and tubing, have precedents from years past.

His collection doesn't end with spouts, but extends to the fronts of antique evaporators. Then there's the shelf, full of sap buckets and covers, each with its own story.

And the collecting never ends.

"I'm still finding. I just found this one in the last couple of weeks, very unusual sap spout," said Mattoon.

Rare varieties of spouts lost to time that he calls just a drop in the bucket.

Hale Mattoon's new book is flying off the shelves of local bookstores and he just ordered up a second printing.

To find out how to get a copy of Hale Mattoon's new book, "Maple Spouts, Spiles and Taps," call Hale Mattoon at 802-685-4843. You can also find it at:

Next Chapter Bookstore, Barre
Black River Used Books, Springfield

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