Same late February light,
Same rattling of beech sapling leaves,
Same maple trees,
Same snowshoe route up the hill,
Same brook to cross,
Same tapping ritual,
And the backpack with all the tools weighs the same.
Late February light differs hour to hour,
A new troop of beech leaves rattles this year,
Some maple trees are missing.
Same snowshoe route up the hill: terra firma, thank goodness,
The brook crossing’s a bit lower now,
Different people learning to tap,
The backpack with all the tools?
It feels heavier this year.
FLOODLIT: Ship masts in harbor puncture the mist.
SPOTLIT: Here is one with a woodpecker hole the size of a softball. Hmmm, the crown looks healthy; last year’s hole has healed. To tap or not to tap?
SO, HOW’S THE WEATHER BEEN, GENERALLY SPEAKING?
Every month since November has offered up some wintry days. The first cold and snow arrived in mid-November, but winter’s thrust moderated in December and fizzled in January. It felt as though we ought to be tapping in January, but how discouraging since we love and need winter – and so do the trees. The specter of climate change haunts us here in northern Vermont as it does everywhere else.
Happily, February has felt and looked more like winter. We started tapping with little snow underfoot but ended with much more, especially at higher elevations. Most days have been mild enough for tapping (above 20 degrees) but not so mild that the sap ran as we tapped. This coming week may warm enough to trigger a sap run.
SAP WEATHER SPELLED OUT:
“If it has frozen rather hard during the night, the sap will flow next day, but not unless the ardor of the sun is superior to the force of the frost.”
—H.L. Duchamel du Monceau, 1809. Quoted by Helen Nearing in The Maple Sugar Book, 1950.
This sugar season I want the sun to teach me about ardor.