Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Could Spring be in the Air?

The Chickadee has been singing his spring song! It sounds like "Seee Sir! Seee Sir!" We used to call it the See Sir bird. That and the sound of chainsaws in the woods used to be sure signs of Spring.  We hardly hear chainsaws anymore, but I'm pretty excited about the See Sir bird.

The big freeze is starting to break up. We had 3 or 4 inches of snow Monday and Tuesday, making it all pretty again. The woods are a study in black and white. But it is starting to get above the freezing mark during the days. The icicles are dripping, only to freeze up again at night. As I looked out of the window at the office today, I saw what looked like an animal's tail flapping in the woods! After staring for a while, I realized I was looking at a man waving at his two children. The children were wearing pink and blue jackets-a splash of color. They have sap lines attached to the maple trees back there, and they were checking the hoses and connections. The weather is starting to cooperate with the maple producers.

Maple syrup is a product of the sap or water of the sugar maple tree that grows in the deciduous forests of New England and other northern states and into Canada. When the days get above freezing and the nights are cold, the sap starts to "run" and enterprising country folk take advantage by tapping the trees and gathering sap. Buckets hanging on trees is a common sight, but more and more often you see blue hoses strung up from tree to tree. The sap is then boiled down into maple syrup. It takes 45-55 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, but the stuff is Manna from Heaven! I remember my Dad taking us kids off to a dark smoky sugarhouse. The smell was so sweet and woodsy! While the guys stood around talking, they gave us tastes in little tiny pleated paper cups. It was hard to get enough.

There were always a few sugarhouses around that ran rustic restaurants during the sugaring season. One was Gray's Sugarhouse in Ashfield, Mass. People came from all over, even New York City, to sit on logs covered with oilcloth and eat corn fritters and pancakes generously buttered and covered with warm maple syrup. Sometimes the wait was as long as 2 hours to get in. Gray's is closed now, but sugarhouse restaurants are becoming more and more popular--we all anxiously await the first ones opening. We all have our favorites-I love South Face Farm, also in Ashfield. They have pancakes, french toast, waffles, corn fritters, blueberry sauce, ham, bacon and sausage, and maple ice cream and milkshakes too! If you have to wait to get in, you can talk to Tom while he boils the sap, or peruse the museum-like exhibits around the room.

Another sign of Spring that goes hand in hand with sugaring is MUD SEASON! Every driveway and every dirt road turn into slippery, treacherous mud. There are places you just don't want to go during mud season. Gosh, the old "Nash Rambler" that my grandfather used to drive got stuck half way up the side doors in mud on the way to my uncle's dairy farm one year. They had to pull it out with a tractor. Cars are a lot lighter now, and most roads have more solid bases and don't get so deep. Many of us have all wheel drive. Its a good thing! I've had to be towed out of a few places because I couldn't wait till summer to explore this road or that lakeside drive. When there has been a lot of snow, the rivers burst forth with runoff, as in this picture of the dam in Shelburne Falls. I love to go and check it out on a rainy spring day. Below the dam when the water is lower, you can see the glacial potholes that the Native Americans used to consider sacred. The rock formations are smoothed out by eons of water, creating holes and hollows-some shallow, some deep, that are great to see and imagine climbing around in. For safety's sake the area is closed off, but there are great vantage points.

So we're on the verge of Spring ... maple syrup and See Sir birds ... meltwater runoffs and pussywillows ... snow drops and crocuses! I can just feel my own sap starting to flow.  I have always gotten new hairstyles, painted walls, bought flowering plants in February. It's like I'm waking up from a long nap. Bright colors start to thrill me. I begin to plan my summer trips, start looking for some good sturdy sandals. The kayak is waiting. It's coming!


  1. it sure is beautiful, but I bet you get tired of the cold...yes that sweet kitty is my guy, he thinks he is royalty!!!haha

  2. I so enjoyed your post today. We tapped maple trees about 20 years ago. At the time we were leasing a farm and that is where we did the maple trees. Oh...such wonderful rewards for our hard work! Nothing tastes better than something that you've had to labor over!

    Oh...and I'm so looking forward to spring, as well! The area of WV that we live in doesn't get too excited about it just yet. In fact, we never plant anything in our gardens until the end of May, early June. We live in the mountains and it is nothing to have a heavy freeze around Mother's Day. However...I have been dreaming about those tulip bulbs I planted last fall...looking forward to the beautiful pastel pink bursting forth!

  3. Sherry, this is a message for you concerning prostores = its a product of, it's owned by Discover Card. I have been pleased with it for the most part, it can be cumbersome to set up and get going. I have been working at it for three years and just recently started getting a few sales...I just keep plugging away. Let me know if you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to help you any way I can. Blessings - Julie

  4. Thanks Julie. I hope to be setting up a store in March. That's my goal and I'm sticking to it! and Thanks to Stefanie and Dianna too for stopping by.

  5. Thanks for stopping by Sherry. I sure did enjoy your post today. We've been reading Little House in the Big Woods and about the maple sugaring. We just don't have anything like that here. I'll have to share how raisins are made here in the fall. I enjoyed how I felt like I was a part of your experience.

    Take care,

  6. Sherry, I just love reading your posts & looking at your amazing pictures. I really mean that. Do those thoughts & words just flow easily for you, or do you struggle like me? I think you have a true gift & truly believe you should be writing a book. I was mesmerized over the sapping & I could taste the sweet syrup on the fritters!! I'm not even going to get into the pics, been there before. Excellent friend, keep 'em commin! Lisa

    PS Do you journal

  7. See Sir birds...that's too cute...and love how the sap buckets looking hanging from the trees.

  8. Hi Sherry, what a great post! I am so looking forward to spring!

  9. The Chickadees have been playing up here during the day, but Spring is still weeks and weeks away. See Sir birds sounds better than what Hubby thinks they're singing... :that's my baby". ??? What? I never hear "that's my baby" when they sing. :)
    I loved reading about the maple syrup - must be heavenly. Yummm!
    Have a great day, Sherrie!

  10. Dear Sherry, I don't know how it is that you came across my blog, but I am so happy to have found yours! I haven't known a blogger ever from your part of the country, a place I have always dreamed of visiting. I look forward to more beautiful photographs. Your background paper captures my imagination, it reminds me of a Mary Cassatt painting. Lovely. Your collage work is stunning. It is so very thoughtful and beautiful. So happy to meet you! Elizabeth

  11. Sherry, you're very welcome for the envelope of goodies!! Seeing your photos of maple syrup season - so pretty! Is the one of the falls where they have the flower bridge? We love New England!

    Have fun with the goodies!

  12. Diane, Have you been there-Yes just up river is the Bridge of Flowers. I'll post some pics one day.
    And Elizabeth, What lovely things you said about my blog. Thank you for coming over!
    My followers are TOPS!

  13. mmmmm! this post makes me want a nice stack of pancakes smothered in warm maple syrup!


  14. Hello Sherry, what a beautiful set of winter pictures. We have received fresh snow too, at least 20cm. I just returned home after shoveling the driveway and yard for 2h. I can't feel my fingers and my back will suffer tomorrow.;)

    A very educational and interesting post. I love the feel of your place, so close to nature in spirit, just the way I am too.

    Thank you so much for your lovely visit and kind words.;))

  15. We barely had any winter at all here in the PNW. I have crocus in bloom, the cherry trees in town are blooming this week, and my lilacs have fat buds on them. OH, I am so ready! My middle son went out with the mower after school today and came home with $40.00! I am headed into the garden tomorrow. I should have pictures ( after I pull weeds. I wanted to say thank you for all your encouraging words. I tried to respond to your comments in e-mail, but it comes back to me. I really feel good after reading your comments. Karyn

  16. Sherry, your photos are fantastic! Just love the first one! Thank you for stopping by my blog so often!

  17. It is soooooo gorgeous where you live, and how neat to see the buckets on the trees!!!!
    you asked about my kitty...he is a Walmart free kitty (he doesn't want people to know) they had him in a box that said Free, and I fell in LOVE!!!

  18. Meowllo Sherry!

    Thank you for stopping by to visit me! I enjoyed coming over to your blog and reading your most recent post. The pictures are wonderful - especially the falls - whoa, no white water rafting on that one!!

    Thanks too for your support regarding my human - she's a challenge sometimes. I think the cat nip mouse is a good suggestion and I am sure there are about 30 or so around here somewhere. I'm going to go hunt one out.....

  19. Hi Sherry,

    beautifull photoes,
    and a lovely story about the maple trees.
    So reminded me of the books from Laura Ingalls Wilder, which I have loved reading for my daughter, and myself.
    Yes seems you are on your way to spring, I guess we have to wait a little longer here.

    Have a good day, Sherry.
    xo Dorthe

  20. Sherry, what a wonderful post! You are a sensational writer! Once I began reading..your words carried me right to the end.

    Yes, I'm hoping Spring is near. And thank you for your sweet comment over at my place about my use of Yellow on my current project.

    We were taught in art school to stay away from Yellow. That's precisely the reason you probably see so little of it. But personally, I love the color. I've used it quite often from the beginning of my painting career.

    So long for today! I'll be visiting often to read what beautiful story you post next.

    Blessings, joy and sunshine, Terri

  21. I just had to come by and check out another Sherry's blog when I saw a comment from you on the "Vintage Comfort" blog. Your photos are such a treat for these Southern eyes. Thank you for sharing. Come visit me when you can.

    Sherry @ A Happy Valentine

  22. Ah, I just have to say that your pictures are absolutely beautiful. Breath-taking, really. They bring back fond memories of growing up in Vermont. I laughed when I read 'Mud Season' as no one around here knows what I'm talking about when I try to explain. (They look at me puzzled, like "Why would you name it Mud Season... It's just a little mud..." OH, they have NO idea! ☺) I remember trying to walk to school one day, and my foot sunk so deep in the earth, when I tried to pull it out, my boot stuck in the mud, and I was stuck balancing on one foot trying to free my boot! We joked saying Vermont's four seasons are as follows: Fall, Snow, Snow and Mud.
    Seeing those maples reminds me of Dakin Farms, they had a sugar shack that you could smell for miles! They also smoke their own cheeses and meats... Super Yummy! (They sell online now, thank goodness, so I can still order them when I need a refresher on Vermont Goodness!)

    Oh, wow... Sorry this comment is SO long... See? I told you those were really great pictures.... ♥


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