Signs of Spring

Over the past few weeks I have seen lots of signs that spring is on the way. Yesterday being the first full day, astronomically at least, of spring, it seemed apt to post a list. The first was three weeks ago, when I saw a red winged blackbird perched in the sugar maple where we hang the bird feeders. It was hunkering against the onslaught of snow. We got two feet of snow that day and I couldn’t help but anthropomorphize that bugger and make him ask “Why couldn’t I have waited a few days at least?”  Here are some others:

  • The other morning I went for a run and heard a woodcock doing its spring dance over the field across the road. I am always happy to hear woodcocks in the morning. My heart leaps up, as Wordsworth said, when I hear that bizarre “peenting.” The thing is, however, that the field across the road was covered in snow and ice. It had been flooded so it was like a frozen lake covered in snow. And the woodcock was doing its best to attract a mate. What boys won’t do to get some.
  • Recently there were five different types of birds in the same tree–the same as the one with the blackbird: blue jay, cardinal, chickadee, robin and bluebird. It was a colorful site. The bluebird kept hopping from branch to bird house. Nesting on the mind.
  • Mud. There is a spot up the hill on our dirt road that makes for a woozy ride. It doesn’t look muddy but the car slides back and forth every time. I love driving that way. The car, of course, is pretty much filthy.
  • Sugaring in on full force. It looks to be a productive spring for sugar makers. Good news for those of us who like love the stuff.
  • Yesterday we had a few good blasts of snow. OK that sounds more like winter, but those wet spring snow storms that look like winter is desperately trying to stick around make me realize that spring really is just about here.
  • Turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks are circling the meadows.
  • Yesterday I drove to work without boots. I just wore plain old shoes. The transition from wearing boots and switching to shoes inside, to forgetting the boots, has begun.
  • Crocuses (croci?) are popping up. Those puppies are sturdy. They had started to pop up right before that two feet of snow. And they are still green.
  • Kids walk to school in shorts and a T-shirt. I keep seeing that. I know that the young set has and will continue to parade to school without appropriate attire for the weather. This seems a right of passage (although I am proud to say I never felt the need to express my coolness through the acquisition of hypothermia) but dude, it isn’t that warm. I mean, we had snow yesterday and today. Wear a jacket dumbass.

And there will be more. Leaves haven’t budded out yet. I haven’t smelled a skunk. But in time. Before I know it I’ll be digging in the dirt and planting seeds. I can hardly wait.

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Sugaring

Spring is definitely around the corner when open house time comes to sugar houses around the state. This weekend was it. My daughter and I hopped over the hill to Shelburne Farms for their event. We got there late in the morning and started things off with their benefit pancake breakfast. We ate pancakes with, duh, maple syrup and sipped hot beverages (cocoa for her, coffee for me) before wandering about the animal barns. There was a passel of new lambs we oohed at for a while, guarded by a llama (it sported a hand written sign that read “I Spit!”). Then we made our way up the muddy trail to the sugar house.

Pile of Fluffiness

The sugar house was a busy place–lots of visitors and lots of steam. The sap was running and syrup was in the making.

Boiling Under Way

Formerly Maple Sap

A Lesson at the Steamer

We had the opportunity to taste the generous doses of fresh syrup that volunteers were handing out and we walked up the hill to see the lines–tubes that catch the sap and run it down to the collector to be boiled down. They tap about 500 trees (I paid attention during the lesson) so they make a fair amount of syrup, most of which gets used the in restaurant on site. I will have to head back over there at some point for breakfast.

We tried to stop at Palmer’s Sugarhouse on the way home to purchase some syrup even closer to home. We stopped and headed inside but that place was so packed we would have had to wait at least a half hour in line. Forget it. They were boiling like mad with their oil-fueled system–bigger and faster than the system at Shelburne Farms, no doubt. I’ll go back to Palmer’s some time this week and buy a couple gallons.  If they still have it.

We have enough maple syrup to get us through for a little while, but that stuff is just plain old good. Makes me want to whip up some yeasted waffle batter tonight so we can have them in the morning. But maybe I’m not quite that ambitious. The ideal situation would be if someone else made the waffles. That however, ain’t happening. Maybe next weekend.