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The Sugarmaker’s Pecan Pie

A maple in April is a force to be reckoned with. It is in the zone, doing its superpower thing, an engine firing on all cylinders. The sap is flowing with a vengeance, squeezed by specialized cells that expand during the heat of day to help create more pressure than in the inside of a car tire. The people who boil sap into maple syrup belong to a hearty tribe called “sugarmakers.” They capitalize on a maple’s internal pressure by drilling holes in the tree, a process known as tapping, which allows the tree’s pressure to push the sap (or “water,” in sugarmaker lingo) out of the tree and into a collection system. Late last year, a sugarmaker started showing up at the Missoula winter market. He seemed to be everywhere at once, speeding around and chatting with other vendors, while juggling a steady queue at his stand, where motivated shoppers were …

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