Under a dazzling sky, with spring in the air, syrup is flowing in a maple grove near the village of Saint-Alexis.With a mallet in hand, feet braced in deep snow, Simon Lanoue pounds plastic tubing into one tree after another to drain their sap, weaving a vast spider web in the forest.As the sweet liquid drips slowly from the trees, Lanoue laments his losses due to Quebec province’s measures to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Lanoue had to close his dining room in mid-March, barely two weeks after the start of “maple sugar time.”An annual tradition that runs until the end of April, Quebecers and visitors flock to rustic sugar shacks to feast on spiced sausages, sticky baked beans, fluffy omelets and Christ’s ears (deep-fried pork fat) — all layered with golden maple syrup.It’s topped off with a dessert of maple “taffy,” made of thick hot syrup spread over snow and rolled around a popsicle stick.Usually, “catering represents from 75 to 80 percent” of revenues, but this year Lanoue will have to be content with the sale of his syrup, “which does not represent much.””But there are cabins in worse shape than mine,” he points out.A similar scenario is playing out in the neighboring village of Saint-Esprit, at the Constantin Gregoire sugar shack. “It is generally full everywhere,” owner Denise Gregoire says in one of the three grand dining rooms, where moose antlers hang over a large fireplace.”On March 15, we closed our doors, and we will not be able to reopen this year, it will go to next year,” says Gregoire, who had to lay off about 20 employees.Nevertheless, Jacqueline, a client, wants to come “buy maple syrup, like every year. Usually we come to eat at the cabin. But this year, because of the virus, it’s not possible.”There are more than 200 of these so-called “commercial” cabins in the province of Quebec, explains Helene Normandin, spokeswoman for the federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.”It’s a catastrophic situation,” she says. “This year 2020 is completely lost for [owners].” But COVID-19 or not, the production of syrup continues, the industry having been designated “essential” by the provincial government.Canada produces 92 percent of the world’s maple syrup, largely thanks to Quebec (72 percent), with the rest coming from American border states.Quebec has more than 11,000 producers grouped into 7,400 companies, most of them artisanal, which contribute annually up to Can$600 million (US$422 million) to the local economy, supporting the equivalent of 10,500 full-time jobs.Quebec had a record season last year, harvesting more than 72,000 tonnes of syrup, with 80 percent of it exported to 60 countries. The United States, Germany and Britain are the largest foreign buyers.The current season promises to be “normal,” according to Normandin, projecting a slightly more modest harvest.”I think we are going to have a good year, and the syrup again is excellent,” Lanoue says.And no shortage is anticipated, as the federation maintains a strategic reserve of “blond gold” to ensure price stability: more than 45,000 tonnes of syrup stored in barrels in a padlocked warehouse as large as five football fields. Topics : “For me, this represents a shortfall of between $80,000 and $100,000,” he said.Quebec has ordered all residents to stay home except for essential tasks, closed eat-in restaurants and even limited travel in the province.The 140-seat dining hall in Lanoue’s Osias sugar shack, located in an old barn about 60 kilometers north of Montreal, is deserted.On weekends around this time of year, diners normally rotate in and out every two hours.
World Cancer Day is Tues., Feb. 4. The Relay For Life is asking for business support for the June event.Whether you or a loved one has been diagnosed, or it was someone you know from work, chances are cancer has impacted you.In an effort to raise awareness of the illness, each year a day is set aside to encourage prevention, detection, and treatment of the illness. That day is Tuesday Feb. 4.World Cancer Day was established in 2008 with the primary goal of reducing the illness and death caused by cancer by 2020.Locally, many residents demonstrate a commitment to the ongoing battle, by participating in and/or sponsoring in Relay For Life.As people from around the globe observe World Cancer Day, the Relay For Life is looking for local businesses to join the cause.Many options for corporate sponsorship area available, including forming a team at one or more local events; providing in-kind donations of goods; purchasing event sponsor signs for track display; encouraging employees to volunteer at events; and collecting donations at places of business.“One in every 100 Americans participates in this fundraising event that has become a global phenomenon,” stated Jeni Schnebelt, Event Chair. “Everything we do at Relay For Life contributes to reducing cancer mortality and incidences, whether it’s raising dollars that support free patient programs and services, research or volunteering to commit to advocacy and education efforts- we’re all a part of the fight and we the community’s help.”In Ripley County and more than 5,200 other communities around the globe, Relay For Life unities people to celebrate the lives of those who have faced cancer and remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease. Relay For Life, the world’s largest grassroots fundraising movement, continues to grow as tens of thousands of people will participate in events across Indiana.Relay events are held overnight as individuals and teams camp out at a high school athletic track, park or gathering area, with the goal of keeping at least one team member on the track or pathway at all times throughout the night, to signify that cancer never sleeps. Teams do most of their fundraising prior to the event, but some teams also hold creative fundraisers at their campsites during Relay. Relay For Life brings together families, friends, businesses, hospitals, schools, and faith-based groups- people from all walks of life- all aimed at furthering the American Cancer Society’s efforts to save lives by helping people stay well, by helping them get well, by finding cures and fighting back.If you or your company would like to help the American Cancer Society achieve its mission of saving lives, call Jeni Schebelt at 812-571-0297 or email: firstname.lastname@example.orgRelay For Life of Ripley County is set for June 21 and June 22 at Batesville High School.