Maple Sugaring

Sweet Days & Beyond 

By Burr Morse
Reviewed by

    What is one to do when asked by a very nice woman from a small Vermont publisher, to review an attractive, well turned out book combing maple sugar lore and family history set in Vermont for a newspaper located in central Maine? The Woman, Sarah Campbell-Copp, of The Historical Pages Company, related that her attempts to have the book in question, Sweet Days & Beyond, reviewed in Maine, had been met with a uniform disinterest bordering on contempt. She found this reception somewhat puzzling as Maple Sugaring is a topic of great interest in Maine, and the book itself has many appealing qualities.

    When it comes to regionalism, anyone involved in the buying and selling of books in Maine is aware of a certain phenomenon. A book with the title Magnificent Images of Vermont would excite no interest in Maine bookstores. Conversely, a book entitled, Dismal Images of Maine would sell quite well. Again, if we imagine a book entitled Conquering the Jetstream: How a Woman from Vermont Flew A Hang Glider From Burlington Vermont to Kyoto Japan in under Two Hours, said book would hold no interest whatever for Maine readers. On the other hand, a book such as Dimpled Curtains, How a Maine Child Flew A Paper Airplane Across Her Living Room, would be a strong seller.

    What can we say then of Sweet Days & Beyond: The Morse Family, Eight Generations of Maple Sugaring, by Burr Morse? We can say that is a book filled with information on Maple Sugaring which would be interesting if it weren’t based on experience garnered in Vermont. That it is filled with anecdotes which would be charming, if they hadn’t occurred in Vermont. That it is filled with photographs which would be engaging, if they weren’t photographs of Vermont.

    There are some rifts that nothing, not even maple sugaring, can ever bridge. And so it is here. The author is wearing a Vermont cap on the book cover and states in the Epilogue that "I never ‘flew’ far from Vermont because, well, why leave the best place in the world." The matter is hopeless. Sweet Days and Beyond, though a book filled with history, human interest, and maple sugar lore, would stand a better chance of commercial success in Maine if it were a treatise on pineapple blight written in cuneiform.