Sap Rising?

Sun shining through onto the maples and sap buckets

Sun shining through onto the maples and sap buckets

I got the word yesterday that Shelburne Sugarworks, just up the road, will be holding their first Sugar on Snow Weekend this weekend. This means watching sap get boiled into syrup, plus tours of the sugarbush, samples, and sugar on snow complete with pickle and donut. I learned this on a morning that started at 9 degrees below zero.

Then I read that afternoon that the annual statewide Maple Open House Weekend is happening on March 22-23. This is great weekend to see sugaring in action and to get some syrup for the year. Last year I bought two gallons from Shelburne Sugarworks. It was not at all enough. We supplemented that throughout the year with over a gallon from other local sugar makers. This year we may need to stock up more earlier. In past years we also have attended the open house at Shelburne Farms on this weekend. They have a pancake breakfast and, well, the whole awesome farm to check out.

It was hard to believe yesterday that spring is close enough that sap will be running soon. We had several nights of below-zero temperatures. The snow is crusted right over. The wind has been blowing the loose snow into drifts. It has been downright wintry. Then today I left work and it felt sort of warm outside. The thermometer in the car read 32. Almost springlike?

I took a short walk after hanging out and sitting all day, at Wheeler Park in South Burlington. It was an easy walk on the packed snow, across a field and then into the woods. The cedars were thick at one point and then just ended with an abrupt transition into a hardwood stand, with a mix of young and old trees. Hanging on the larger maples were galvanized sap buckets. Someone clearly is anticipating some thawing. The sap run requires nights below freezing and days above freezing. There could be some sap running this weekend.

Spring might not be far off after all.

Ready for Sap to Run

Ready for Sap to Run

Chilled Bluebirds

Bluebird Pondering Making a February Nest?

The site of bluebirds has been pretty common lately. Robins have been around as well. I am not sure if they never left, or if they have just returned way early. I suppose I didn’t see any for about a month, but for the past month they have been hanging out in the maple tree, on the birdhouses, in the pines. It has been mild enough, with little enough snow, that apparently they have enough to eat.

Walking down to meet the school bus the other morning I heard a bird singing. Up in a white pine next to the driveway a bluebird was trilling away. Seriously? Early February and a bluebird is not only hanging around but singing? Not even just a simple call, but a song? Too weird.

We have lived in this house five winters now and I have seen bluebirds late in winter, but never this early, or as late in the fall, as this season. It has been so warm that we have speculated that the sap is running. Last week we had a stretch of days with highs in the forties and nights with lows in the teens–perfect sugaring weather. Except it is early February.

I love bluebirds. I love maple syrup. I love spring. But we have yet to have one big snowstorm. Let me say that again: We have not yet had a major snowstorm. Our driveway was plowed once, twice if you count the sanding when it was super icy. I am not yet ready for bluebirds and sugaring. I am ready for snow.

I don’t want to harp on this weather thing, but criminy, can we get some snow already? Today was cold at least. Our high temperature was 12. Yesterday it was 15. If it had been really windy, and we had gotten two feet of snow, it would have been a blizzard. Then I would have been able to say “Poor bluebirds.” Instead I can feel bad for the guy who plows our driveway. So much for that extra income on his part.

It was warm again this coming week. I guess those thrushes will have plenty of reason to stick around until spring really does come. And maybe we will get a bumper crop of maple syrup. I mean, heck, why not look on the bright side of this? I can do that for one winter. For one winter. Another winter of this would make me loony.