Weather: In the past week we got two freeze/thaw cycles followed by a cold Saturday. Today, Sunday, A Mighty Thaw (The Mighty Thaw?) got going. At 7pm it’s in the mid-forties and most likely won’t freeze for several days. This forecast is not ideal, it’s intimidating.
How’s It Running? Those freezing nights last week triggered classic runs, whereby the sap runs hard for 8-10 hours then shuts off hard come nightfall. Today’s strong run won’t shut off: Help!
Sap Sweetness: It jumped this past week from 1.3% to 2.3%; it’s following the natural order of sap season. In sync with increased sweetness, there is now more sugar sand, or niter, in the pans. This is the precipitate – sometimes gritty, sometimes greasy – we filter out of the syrup before bottling it.
Boiling Status: Tomorrow’s boil will be Day Eight. To date we’ve made about a quarter of an average crop.
Music to Boil By:
Bruce Springsteen, Live from Dublin
A Taste of the Maritimes (The Bluenose is Sailing Once Again, etc.)
Pete Seeger, always and forever
Chief of Operations writes in the wee hours while tending the Reverse Osmosis machine:
Daght or Nigay?
In hindsight, tapping the trees was so sane. You tap until it’s too dark to see and begin again when daylight returns. A defined cycle.
And then the sugar season crashes in and you are tossed about in unrelenting haste by the demands of syrup production. Tubing maintenance becomes a never finished chore, sap screams to be concentrated before the it overflows, cleaning ashes & pans & tanks is shoehorned in between boils, syrup is bottled and made presentable to keep the bills paid, and the help is corralled into a schedule at the whims of nature, seemingly orchestrated by a lunatic.
There is no time for reflection or for regaining your composure. Sleep hygiene rages out of control as you survive on erratically timed power naps.
After nearly three weeks of this unbridled existence, I venture to town for supplies and marvel at the spectacle of orderly society that strikes me as a distant memory. I struggle to focus on people’s questions about how sugar season is progressing so I can answer in a perceptive manner.
While in the heat of activity, day and night lose distinction. I feel adrift in a rudderless vessel ensnared by the ever-evolving rhythm of nature.
Comments from readers re the Mystery Photo:
Either tree bark or microscopic image of something.
Cover photo for the first cd of the Nebraska Knoll Singers.
A close up of a jute mat that hasn’t had a lot of use yet.
An actual representation of my brain while doing my taxes.