Spring Awakening

According to the calendar, Spring arrived three weeks ago, but the latent buds on the trees in Northern New Jersey have refused to blossom, somehow intimidated by temperatures straining to reach historical averages during the day, and defeated by freezing cold at night. Even the early birds have postponed their arrival until they can be certain that crocus sprouts and freesia flowers are here to stay.

Things were no different in Vermont, two weeks ago, where the ground had a firm grasp on winter’s snowy mantle…

Green Mtns panorama

resisting all attempts to turn over a new leaf.

We joined my sister for Passover in Peacham, hoping for relief from Mother Nature’s less familiar plague of more wintery weather, but basked in the warmth of family around a beautifully presented seder table.

seder table

Nevertheless, the early promise of Spring is mostly evident in the thaw of the sugar maples surrounding the Peacham property…

farmland clearing (3)

as precious sap slowly drips from tapped spiles…

tree taps (2)

and collects…

sap lines

in large barrels for an anticipated boil.

sap collection

According to Cornell’s Sugar Maple Research and Extension Program,

“when temperatures rise above freezing, pressure (also called positive pressure) develops in the tree. This pressure causes the sap to flow out of the tree through a wound or tap hole. During cooler periods when temperatures fall below freezing, suction (also called negative pressure) develops, drawing water into the tree through the roots. This replenishes the sap in the tree, allowing it to flow again during the next warm period. Although sap generally flows during the day when temperatures are warm, it has been known to flow at night if temperatures remain above freezing.”

It takes 10 gallons of sap reducing in the sugar shack evaporator…

evaporator

and hours upon hours of a hot stoked fire…

stoking the fire

and plenty of wood…

WS1

to eventually produce one quart of local, golden ambrosia…

syrup

thus, fulfilling a family tradition, and tapping into a fitting Spring awakening.

sugar shack