How does the sugar season end?

How does the sugar season end?

How does sugar season end? Spring asserts itself.  A series of unseasonably warm days with nights that do not go below freezing, and the runs peter out, or the sap gets buddy, sour, as the buds at the tips of the twigs swell and start thinking about blossoms and leaves. The syrup has darkened and the sugarmaker can tell that its character is about to move from “robust” to harsh and rank. The giddy hustle of sugarmaking is over, and suddenly all that energy is converted into closing up shop. One last boil: a whisper of steam over the sugar house with no maple aroma signals the final boil of water only that cleans the evaporator. A crew heads into the sugarbush to pull taps. With the vacuum pump on, they hike to the top of the lines and pull tap after tap, dropping them into buckets, and looping the tubes back onto themselves, to be sealed until next year.  The vacuum assures empty, drained lines, as the crew works its way down hill. Suddenly all that gear and paraphernalia, the intricate series of pumps, filters, and tanks grow still and the surge of smoke, steam and boil subsides to a great stillness for ten more months. Talk about a flash in the pan.

The hills are still grey, no flush of color yet, the fields and pastures are still tawny, but sure as buckets are stacked and finishing pans are scrubbed, no matter how raw the day, there are the spring ephemerals in the woods, brazen little shoots poking their heads above the leaf litter for a look. Hepatica is the first; hard to see, so shy are its barely pink blossoms, its flat mahogany leaves perfectly camouflaged against the coppery tan of the dry leaves on the forest floor.  Suddenly one finds oneself thinking about planting peas. Maybe tomorrow. 

-- Lisa Chase


This is so much fun to read ! I like the writing style: reminds me of a New Yorker article. M3eb9y

Arthur davenport — Apr 23, 2015