Tapping shadow. See the hole in the tree? Or is it?



WEATHER: Looking back, it’s rather a blur. The sunny, mild stretch triggered a weekend sap run, then the mercury dipped enough to freeze the hoses running from here to there. Yesterday not much thawed out since the temp hovered just above freezing.




Today is different; at noon it is nearly 50 F. and partly sunny. The forecast shows a strong, extended thaw with no freezing nights to recharge the trees. Ring the alarm bells.

Photo 2/22/17.  The picnic table emerges; it serves as the snow depth gauge.

BOILING STATUS: The first boil was Monday, the second is today.

SAP SWEETNESS: 1.3% sugar over the weekend, sweetening today to over 2%.


RO, noun. The reverse osmosis machine which removes lots of the water from the sap before we boil it.

CONCENTRATE, noun or verb. Into the RO flows the sap; out of the RO flow two streams: the sugary sap, or concentrate, and the pure water. The RO concentrates the sap. The concentrate goes into the concentrate tank.

PERM, noun: Short for permeate, it is the pure water removed from the sap. The perm flows into the perm tank.

The sub perches on the bank to the right of the sap shed, camouflaged by the wooden trellis.

SUB, noun. The name for our perm tank. Short for submarine, it is an old milk tank that once lay on the truck bed of a milk truck. It now stores the permeate water that we use to rinse the RO membranes.

MORNING STORY using the day’s vocabulary words:

Says Chief of Operations this morning, “I went to start the RO  and the perm line to the sub was frozen, which I didn’t know, so I blew one of the tubes the minute I tried to concentrate. I had to run a new line from the RO room up to the sub. It took me a half hour just to shovel out a path. Finally I got out the mattock to break through the encrusted snow.  I worked from midnight to three on that; thank God it worked.”

“End of a long day where the exit feels like I am descending into the caverns of the sacred river Alph of Xanadu.”  —Chief of Operations

4 thoughts on “Strong Thaw

    1. Elyse, The earliest boil was on 2/23 in 2012, three days later than this season’s 2/20 first boil. Runners up are 2016 and 1984, tied for 2/25. Since 1980 I count eight years of boiling dates in late February, but these isolated events were followed by many days of freeze-up. This is the first year of full-on sugaring in February. AC


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