Bottles of maple syrup are for sale at Zawalick's sugar house in Northampton, Mass., in 2000. There are four different grades of maple syrup: Grade A Light, Medium, Dark Amber (all used for table syrup), and Grade B (which is very dark and mostly used in cooking). Light is often the most expensive because it can take longer to make. Steven Harris/Staff/File
Stan Zawalick drills a hole for a tap, or a spile or spout as they're sometimes called, into a sugar maple tree in Northampton, Mass., in 2000. The taps will then have buckets hanging from them to collect sap. The taps cost about $1.50. A 7/16 inch drill bit is used to drill a hole two to three inches deep into the tree, and then the spout is hammered in. Steven Harris/Staff/File
Stan Zawalick drives a metal tap into a sugar maple tree in Northampton, Mass., in 2000. The sugaring season runs from mid-February to early April. Steven Harris/Staff/File
Sap from a spout tapped into a maple tree drips into a waiting bucket at Harlow's Sugar House in Putney, Vt., in 2005. John Nordell/Staff/File
Stan Zawalick hangs metal buckets to collect the sap from a tall sugar maple tree in Northampton, Mass., in 2000. Commercial producers are replacing the buckets with plastic tubing, which requires less work to collect the sap. Steven Harris/Staff/File
Stan Zawalick pours fresh sap from a sugar maple tree in Northampton, Mass., in 2000. The sap is clear and watery when it comes out of the tree. It is about 98 percent water and 2 percent sugar. Only after boiling the sap does the darker, amber syrup appear. Steven Harris/Staff/File
Michael Steyer of Steyer Brothers Maple Syrup Farm in Oakland, Md., connects tubing to spiles, or spouts, in a maple tree, on Feb. 9. The farm has 8,500 taps for maple sap on 100 acres and uses 35 miles of tubing in the process of making maple syrup. The Cumberland Times-News, Steven R. Bittner/AP/File
The Hand Hollow Sugar House is shown at dusk in New Lebanon, N.Y., in 2008. Mike Groll/AP/File
Sap boils in a 4 feet by 14 feet evaporator in Northampton, Mass., in 2000. Stan Zawalick boils as much as 25,000 gallons of sap a year to produce about 500 gallons of maple syrup. The sap gives off clouds of steam when boiled. After the sap is boiled, it is filtered and bottled. Steven Harris/Staff/File
Farmer Don Harlow checks the temperature of sap being heated in an evaporator at Marlow's Sugar House in Putney, Vt., in 2005. John Nordell/Staff/File
Stan Zawalick checks the density of maple syrup as it pours out of his evaporator. Steven Harris/Staff/File
Farmer Jason Newton pours freshly made maple syrup into a filtration system in Putney, Vt., in 2005. John Nordell/Staff/File
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich listens as Ben Fisk explains how maple syrup is made at Ben's Sugar Shack in Temple, N.H., on April 4. Mr. Gingrich is trying to decide if he'll seek the Republican nomination in the next election for president. Jim Cole/AP
Just two years ago Lesotho was referred to as a democratic success story in Africa. But its attempted coup presents a test for the Southern African Development Community, committed to peace in the region.
ByMichael J. Jordan, Correspondent
Two years ago, this tiny nation high in the mountains of southern Africa earned acclaim for passing the latest test of African democracy: It pulled off the region’s first peaceful handover of power. Lesotho then went one step further, forming what some call the first and only coalition government in all of Africa.