The unfurling began in earnest three days ago when the sun came out and sweatshirts came off, and wool hats, too. The unfurling, that is, of the baby maple leaves, all brown and red and wrinkly to begin with. As spring green creeps up the hillside, first bedecking the Old Bush and currently coloring in Morningside and Keystone, I want to slow it down. But why? To foster the illusion that my mind can somehow keep up with the changes? Because soon enough insects will chew holes in the leaves? To cling to the new, to the lime-hued unblemished?

An earlier stage of unfurling. Painting by Ana Lucia Fernandez.


The furling began April 22nd when the crew headed into the woods to pull taps. The furling of Sugar Season 2019 ended this past Friday when Chops delivered the RO membranes to Swanton for a summer of R & R in the depths of the Leader Evaporator, Inc. warehouse.

In the weeks between there has been “Activity of Youth! Activity of Age!” (Does anyone recall Robert J. Lurtsema’s Morning Pro Musica? The birdsong? His narration of the Christmas Revels?)

One week of “Work Camp” was devoted to putting the pans to bed. Here’s Hannah B. in the firebox scraping out the last of the wood ashes.

So, how was the season? It was good. The yield was 93% of what we consider a crop. Chops determined what a crop should be – in gallons of syrup, though some people go by pounds – by taking the ten-year average, since we’ve had the current tubing/vacuum pump setup for ten years. The 2019 yield was .4 gallons per tap. Our highest yield ever was .55 gallons per tap. The flavor was outstanding this year, especially for the Fancy/Golden Delicate.

We lost some landmark trees this past year. I don’t know why.

In Memoriam: The Palace Guard (no photo). As stalwart an elder as you could imagine.

In Memoriam: Peek-a-boo. In the Keystone region.
In Memoriam: The Neckers. Also up on Keystone.

I started sugar season with a quote in mind, something I read or heard somewhere: “We live in an age of loss disguised as plenty.” At the moment the Plenty is in plain sight: drum after drum of Liquid Gold, a mountainside of new foliage and wildflowers, a bag of fiddleheads on the table – in addition to the status quo of a stocked refrigerator and a car filled with gas to get me to a grocery store for more. The Loss is largely hearsay – utterly distressing hearsay. I don’t know whether the deceased maples count as Loss or loss.

Again this spring, the sap ran. It boiled down to some of the best-tasting syrup I’ve ever had. How could this be?

We’re blessed with plenty of water, and we use lots for cleanup. Here is Falls Brook at the height of spring runoff.

It’s all a gift. “Trust in the process of life.”

Thoughts furling and unfurling.

In the meantime, as I write, thunder rumbles and it’s raining hard. Chops says, “I don’t like to hear it rain like this.”
“Why, because the road will wash out?”
“Yes, that and everything else. I hope Falls Brook doesn’t get too frisky.”

3 thoughts on “Things Furling and Unfurling

  1. How can I order some syrup and what would the shipping cost be?

    Michael P Sullivan



  2. sad the segway into summer means the blog goes away for awhile…enjoyed reading it again this year…thanks


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