Shortly before they were married in 1952, my parents purchased an old two-story house on the edge of our small town, just up the hill from a river. One of the first improvements they made to the home (aside from installing a furnace, which they found out the hard way the house did not have) was to add on a "TV room." Cut into the new pine-wood cabinetry along one wall of the room was a space for a television set.
The crisp smell of smoke is usually associated with autumn, but not in a sugar camp in northeastern Wisconsin in the late 1950s. Smoke curled from under a metal pan filled with maple sap around which my family sat, swapping tales and tending the fire. It was a special springtime ritual.