Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sugar Season

The air was thick with woodsmoke and maple steam at the sugar house today. The man running the burner was beaming.

"It's been a great year." he told us. "Last year the season had ended by now. But with all this freezing and thawing the sap is just gushing out of the trees.

We spent the better part of the morning driving up and down mountain dirt roads checking out sugar houses and sampling maple candy. It's so fabulous they're having a good year. The weather really needs to cooperate or else there's nothing to harvest. For the past month, it's been alternately freezing at night and thawing up to the 40's during the day. It seems like every tree had a silver bucket (or 3) hanging off of it. Elaborate systems of plastic piping ran up and down through the woods and end up in giant troughs of raw maple sap.

Eric sat in the back of the van counting buckets. He was up to 100 and we had barely gone 1/4 of a mile.

It's been a long time since we've been to Western MA. I think the last time was Columbus day 2007. We usually avoid going in the winter because of the woodsmoke and Eric's asthma. And this year, my folks shut the house down for the worst parts of the winter. But he was fine this time around. His breathing was strong and steady. He ran my dad and his dad up the mile of mountains to the lake. They had to fight their way up a steep icy slope to get to the path and he never complained once. He's a hearty one, that boy.

Kaylee has suddenly hit the "Imaginary Play" phase. She spent hours with her cousin's old doll furniture, putting her baby doll to bed, feeding her with a spoon and taking her in and out of the high chair.

There's still about a foot of snow on the ground west of I91. It's melting, but slowly. The driveway is plowed just widely enough for one car and the ice is sloped to the center of the drive so you have to hang on to the car to get in and out. It make buckling kids into car seats Oh so easy though.

I can't wait for spring out there. I'm ready for the warm weather. Bring it on.


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