“Ursine insomniac?” asks Larry. LL photo.

THE WEEK BEHIND: Last Monday, March 7th, the forecast of freezing nights and above-freezing days looked favorable for sap runs. In fact, we got a few mediocre late afternoon runs. The sap ran all night Friday into Saturday when winter descended with cold and nearly a foot of snow.

BOILING STATUS: We boiled Monday the 7th, Friday the 11th, and Saturday the 12th.


Saturday’s Maple Snow.

THE WEEK AHEAD: The forecast is for no freezing night for the next ten days. We don’t call a few hours of 31 degrees a freezing night. Highs are predicted to range through the 40’s and 50’s.

“It’s usually sometime in early April you might see a forecast like that. Man, in March we need the freezing nights,” says Chief of Operations at breakfast. He hums over his oatmeal. “These are winters of stunted growth, you know it?”

We could be in for one heck of a week.

My distraction lately from reports of war, from office work, and in stolen moments on boiling days, is following the 50th running of the Iditarod, the 1,000-mile dog sled race in which mushers traverse Alaska from Anchorage to Nome. As maple sugaring is an icon of Vermont so is the Iditarod an icon of Alaska. Thanks to the internet coverage, I access the dogs’ joy in running and the marvel of the bond between musher and dogs. At this writing the dog teams have been traveling for close to eight days. The front runners are bucking wind and blowing snow on sea ice along the coast of the Bering Sea; the rest are stretched out along the Yukon River.

One day I listened to an interview of Thomas Waerner of Norway who won the race in 2020.

“Thomas, a listener wants to know what music or podcasts you listen to while you’re mushing.”

“I know a lot of mushers listen to these things and I used to, too,” says Waerner. “I no longer do because the music makes me more happy than I am. The dogs pick up on that and run too fast. Now I am just being there on the trail, traveling with the dogs.”

“If you were to listen to music, what would it be?”

“I can listen to a very broad range. I like Bruce Springsteen. Rhythm is most important, and it has to be a song.”

Does the Nebraska Knoll crew mind being happier than we are while we’re boiling? No. Or, not really, most of the time. It seems the crew intuitively regulates the happiness by following, say, Paul Simon’s Graceland (turned up loud) with the soundtrack to Brother, Where Art Thou (turned down) followed by a period of no music from the boom box broken by someone saying, “Who wants to be DJ?” Rhythm is most important, and it has to be a song.

Saturday’s crew agreed that our favorite days to boil are snowy, cold days when all there is in the whole world is the hum and warmth of the arch. Here is master boiler Christian.

Strong fare from Newfoundland and Labrador:

Welcome back for the day, Emma.

Emma introduced us to this song from a French band:
I’ve Got Trouble in Mind by the Liminanas. It’s also on YouTube.

More happy than
I am, euphoria
wells up in waves – its own music
at times

Sweet mystery photo. Write your guess in Comments.

11 thoughts on “The week behind, the week ahead

  1. Believe me, Andrea, I took a deliberate look around before taking out my camera. But I think the only person at risk of unwanted attention from this bear would be one carrying a sack of bird seed. Or at least that’s what I choose to believe.


  2. Still waiting for the season to show up here in Newark. Finally boiled on Wednesday – it was hellacious, I just couldn’t filter syrup fast enough. Since then we haven’t collected enough sap to do much of anything with. I’m looking at the warm weather this week through very different eyes, and hoping it finally gets the trees toes wet and wakes them up. That said, we’re looking at freezing nights most of the nights in the forecast.

    Best of luck this week! I thought a lot about the well worn routines in your sugarhouse as I broke myself in to a completely foreign way of boiling last week.


  3. Perhaps an air bubble somewhere in the pan, as the reflection of squares of light may the overhead steam vents? I don’t think it looks like a stray boil-bubble. My second choice guesses would be pouring off or canning in the front room.


  4. Audrey, thank you for introducing me to Lady Cove and Eastern Owl singing “Warrior.” The power of those women’s voices and the landscape moved me from numbness to grieving for the women and children of Ukraine. Each day I practice gratitude for small things. It is the only protest I can think of in the face of evil. The singing won’t let go of me. Thank you for sharing.


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