A symptom of these harried times is that I thought for sure I had published a blog post yesterday but this morning discovered it was still in the draft folder. Yesterday has vanished like the snow. I’ll start a fresh post.
There is a flood warning for today through Sunday evening, prompted by a forecast of temps in the 60’s today and heavy rain tonight. In the sugarbush, snow melt trickles into Falls Brook, chases down to Miller Brook, gathers in Waterbury Reservoir, spills into Little River which tumbles into the Winooski River that bisects the spine of the Green Mountains enroute to Lake Champlain.
The visual palette today is gray and white splotched with earthy browns. The brooks resound steadily, competing with the on-and-off groan of the vacuum pump as it releases sap from the woods into the tanks.
April in February continues. “Make the most of it,” advises meteorologist Roger Hill to sugarmakers who just happen to have the radio tuned to WDEV, 550 on your AM, Waterbury, VT.
HILL REPORT: The woods crew and the sugarhouse crew inhabit separate realms. I caught up with the woods crew when they shuffled into the sugarhouse last evening at dusk, rosy-cheeked and feeling heavy in the legs.
“The snow is wet cement,” said Ross. “Walking through it is like not having snowshoes on but you do. You sink a foot and a half and then have to pull your snowshoe up out of the cement.”
He piled some tubing pieces on the counter. “That many dead taps, huh?” asked Chief of Operations.
“Yeah, five today.”
“What are dead taps?” I asked.
Of course. While tapping, it’s so easy to be in the groove of viewing the trees at eye level, looking for a fresh patch of trunk to drill into, that you neglect to tilt your head back to notice if the tree has a healthy crown. I have tapped a tree or two that had snapped in two just twenty feet above my head.
Joe, the other half of the woods crew, said he found a drill in the snow on M3. It still worked. Chief of Operations was pleased and surprised.
“I fell straight into the brook,” exclaimed Joe. “Crossing on Herbie near the Cabin, it’s tricky. Both feet are soaked.” He beamed.
“BOILING STATUS: Today is Day 5. Since the sap has run day and night, we concentrate it with the RO around the clock but try to wrap up the boiling by midnight. The crew members bump into each other less each day as we catch the rhythm of the boiling dance.
SAP SWEETNESS: It hovers above 2% sugar.
MUSIC TO BOIL BY: Astonishingly, the new young crew members like the CD’s stacked above the red counter. We have listened to The Mamas and Papas more in four days than in the past decade.