An Entire Post About Blue Bags

Yes, you read that right–BLUE BAGS. This morning I noticed they’re all over MY Town. It all started when I was riding around on a very nice day, with no intention of creating a Cycle365 post. Then, while riding along the floodplain of the Vermillion River, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. A grove of large maple trees were sprouting blue bags.

Of course I had to go down there to investigate.

You see, it’s maple syrup time in Minnesota, and that’s a pretty big deal for some folks. I bet Bob in Vermont would know something about that.

I used to work with a guy whose family has tapped maple trees for generations. One time he gave me a pint bottle of homemade maple syrup and told me that it took something like 20-gallons of sap to make it. It takes days of boiling to reduce the sap to syrup. I was amazed at that that information and I felt like I was accepting a bottle of moonshine whiskey.

I guess that’s why REAL maple syrup costs about 10 times as much as Log Cabin or Mrs. Butterworth’s in the grocery store. In fact, I’m not even sure whether those big national brands are actually made from actual maple sap or from chemical reproductions.

Long gone are the days when maple syrupers would hang a pail underneath a spike. Blue bags are all the rage now. Look closely and you can see this blue bag is less than 10% full. As I watched, though, I could see steady drip, drip, drips adding to the bag.

Knowing the value of a few bags of maple sap, I watched for booby-traps while hiking in and out of the maple tree grove. I survived. And after that I started seeing blue bags everywhere.

Blue bags on boats.

Blue bag on a motorcycle.

A blue bag on either a bush or a dead body.

A blue bag over what? Dirt?

I have no idea what this blue bag is all about. If it had been hanging from a maple tree and not an oak tree, I’d have assumed it was put there by an overly optimistic maple syrup maker.

I saw quite a few other blue bags during my ride too, but they were even more boring than the ones I just displayed.

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

8 response to "An Entire Post About Blue Bags"

  1. By: BobinVT Posted: March 8, 2021

    Yes, maple sugaring season is indeed a very big deal around here. Those blue plastic bags are new to me though. Around here, it’s all plastic tubing now, with a whole stand of trees feeding into one big tank to collect the sap. There are a few old timers that still hang the buckets, though.
    Back when we had our store, we used to sell lots of maple syrup. We always told the tourists that it took 35 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. It was always fun when they would be in our store in August and ask where they could go to watch maple syrup being made. They were always surprised and disappointed when we told them they would have to come back next March.

    • By: gregblood Posted: March 8, 2021

      The tubing leading to a big tank sounds like a dairy operation.
      I couldn’t remember exactly how many gallons of sap the guy said it took to make that pint of syrup, so I just made up the 20 gallon figure. Whatever it was, I just remember being surprised by how much had to be boiled off. Prior to that, I thought the stuff was already maple syrup when it came out of the trees.

    • By: Rich-Illinois Posted: March 9, 2021

      I was interested in how the tubing collection works, and found some videos that shows that system.
      I didnt realize how watery the sap is. The tubing saves an immense amount of work.

      The rest of the process is very interesting — goes to prove again there is way more to almost anything than we realize.

  2. By: The Navigator Posted: March 8, 2021

    I can’t believe how many ‘other’ blue bags you found after the maple syrup ones! I would not guess that the syrup got going so early – I would have thought it needed warmer temps to start oozing, so I learned something today!

    • By: gregblood Posted: March 9, 2021

      You’re right about the temps needing to warm up. And warm up it has! Almost immediately after two weeks of abnormally low temperatures, we have now enjoyed two weeks of abnormally warm temperatures. Ergo, the syrupers are doing their thing. I don’t think it’s quite prime syruping weather yet, but we’re getting there.

  3. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: March 9, 2021

    There are LOTS of blue bags in Hastings!
    What we dont want to see are blue tarps over roof damage from severe storms

  4. By: Laura Posted: March 9, 2021

    You should get a blue ribbon considering this is the largest blue collection I’ve seen. I think that big thing hanging from the tree is a combo hammock/tent or an enclosed trampoline. You boring? Never. I’ll bet the rest of your blues are just as interesting.

  5. By: Suzanne Posted: March 10, 2021

    What a surprise that you found all those blues after the initial maple syrup bags.

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