As mentioned in previous years on this blog, sugar season is not over until the fat lady sings.  This aria is what I heard her sing on Friday:

Text: E.B. White Tune: Nebraska folk

I recalled I had first learned of this song from a book by E.B. White called The Trumpet of the Swan which is about a trumpeter swan named Louis from western Canada who plays the trumpet. Louis composed this song for his beloved Serena.Trumpet of Swan

I pulled the book off the shelf and stumbled upon a paragraph that expresses the turn of the season.

 E.B. White writes:

“But one day a change came over the woods and the pond. Warm air, soft and kind, blew through the trees. The ice, which had softened during the night, began to melt. Patches of open water appeared. All the creatures that lived in the pond and in the woods were glad to feel the warmth. They heard and felt the breath of spring, and they stirred with new life and hope. There was a good, new smell in the air, a smell of earth waking after its long sleep.The frog, buried in the mud at the bottom of the pond, knew that spring was here. The chickadee knew and was delighted (almost everything delights a chickadee). The vixen, dozing in her den, knew she would soon have kits. Every creature knew that a better, easier time was at hand—warmer days, pleasanter nights. Trees were putting out green buds; the buds were swelling. Birds began arriving from the south. A pair of ducks flew in….”

(continuing in the voice of the scribe)

…and built a nest at the base of a maple tree, on the south side facing the sun. The maple tree and many others grow on a strip of floodplain between Miller Brook and Nebraska Valley Road. Mr. and Mrs. McGovern, who live across the road with their family, discovered the nest on the day they pulled the sap buckets and taps from the maple trees. Sugar season was over.

The McGoverns and the mother duck-to-be, whose coloring matched the bark of the tree, startled each other and Mrs. Mallard flew off. Later that day, she returned to cover her ten buffy-green eggs with bits of down and leaves. The McGoverns have since seen Mrs. Mallard sitting in her nest.


We could smell in the steam during Thursday's boil that the buds were about to pop. This weekend's 60-degree warmth and sunshine proclaimed the turn of seasons.
We could smell in the steam during Thursday’s boil that the buds were about to pop. This weekend’s 60-degree warmth and sunshine punctuated the end of sugar season, probably for most of northern Vermont.




2 thoughts on “Mallards and Maples

  1. just catching up on your blogs.
    beautiful, beautiful post. your laid up wrist isn’t getting in the way of your creativity, Audrey.


    1. Nina, Thanks for the encouragement. Writing that post felt effortless, probably due to the spell E.B. White casts. Here is the postscript: Mr. and Mrs. McGovern noticed a few days later that the eggs had vanished; they could not find even a tiny fleck of eggshell. What happened to Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their attempt to raise a family is a mystery.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s