Governor Chris Sununu performed what is a ritual for New Hampshire governors: a tree tapping ceremony marking the official kick off of maple sugar season. But the governor also blended some political talk with the syrup.
When Sununu arrived at Maple Ridge Sugar House in Loudon, he was eager to tap some trees and ready with what could be considered bit of humble-bragging when presented with a hand drill to do the honors.
"I'm not going to lie, I don't know if its cheating or whatever, but when I tap my trees I use a power drill," Sununu said. "So I am going to do everything I can not to embarrass myself."
Sununu and his four year-old son Leo acquitted themselves fine when it came to the drilling.
The governor says he started maple sugaring at his house in Newfields seven years ago, when he was given taps and buckets by Robb Thomson, son of former Gov. Mel Thomson. So far, Sununu says, his own Sugaring season, which includes boiling on the family stove, is of to a promising start.
"We tapped four trees when we emptied once on Thursday," he said. "We just got back from a trip late last night, they were already overflowing. So thing are definitely moving."
The trip Sununu mentioned was to D.C., for a meeting of the National Governor's Association, which included an audience with President Trump. As Sununu stood next to a small stand of maples, drill in hand, he gave a glowing report of Trump to Jim Fadden, head of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association.
"He wants to know the governors' input," Sununu said of Trump. "Because we are the ones who are going to implement what ever is going to work. And we'd have a question and he's say, he'd look right at the secretaries and say, 'What are we doing here? How do we answer this question to get these guys an answers they need to make decisions.' And it isn't, 'what are we going to do in six months,' it's 'what are we going to do this week...how do we get them an answer by Monday or Tuesday.' There was real meat to these discussions. I was very impressed with him as a manager. It was great."
And then, it was time to head to the sugar house. As Sununu made his way to the sweet smelling boiling room, Fadden offered a somewhat tart assessment of the new governor's early days on the job.
"Pretty good, I guess," Fadden said. "He hasn't done anything to embarrass us yet, which is a good sign. We shall see. It's a little bit of a change from the Democrat way of thinking to the Republican way of thinking."
Any definitive assessment will come long after sugaring season is over. In the meantime, both Fadden and the governor say they have plenty of work to do.
"If the weather holds out, I think there's a lot more tapping to do," Sununu told Fadden.