We’re doing that different now, he announced.
She could smell from outside that the syrup had dropped grade.
Everyone is saying it’s the worst mud season in a long, long time.
Forty degrees feels chilly after two days of sixty.
Now we scrub the niter off the hydrometer cup during evening cleanup.

Every morning, The Drum Roll.

Until this week we soaked the utensils in a pail overnight before scrubbing.
The soak water was cold in the morning.
Where did you get the snow? asks one boy and then another.
They chase each other to the sugar-on-snow troughs.
In her sleep she monitors the groan of the sap pump: on, off, on off.

On and off for the seventh day now without a pause.
It’s raining on a Saturday night.
How swollen the red maple buds appear on the tree by the main road.
New Hampshire’s season is done, the visitor said.
Leo Kottke’s guitar tunes blend with the steam.

Is there enough sap left in the tank for one more stoke?
Quick, take the squeegie and divert the water before it flows under the counter.
Three moths swim in the sap tank.
Walking across the thawing gravel is like walking across a trampoline.
The boy from Texas built a snowman on Thursday.

The stick arms lie wet beside the road.
Where are the caps for the growler bottles?
On hot boiling days the steam emitted from the cupola vanishes into hot air.
Other years, crew snacked on oranges; I wonder why they pass them by this year.
If you’re the stoker, stay hydrated.

He wears his high rubber boots for the messy morning chores then switches to hiking boots for boiling.
There’s nothing like coffee brewed with maple sap.
Don’t stomp in the muddy rut, said the teacher, but the boys couldn’t help it.
The girls came to work; they stacked and stacked wood until someone said, That’s enough for now.
The filter press suddenly goes click click click; one of us turns the yellow bar and the pump stops.

Welcome back for the day, Carly.

More Chatter:

It has been an indoor work week of boiling sap for all except Larry who is happiest roaming the sugarbush repairing squirrel chew. We have produced 40% of an anticipated crop. “Slow and steady” then “slower and steady” sums up the sap run during this week-with-no-freezing-nights. The sap sweetness has slowly dropped.

Does the crew ever eat well! First MTL brought us Northern Tacos (an upcoming blog post), then Anne dropped off a comfort-food casserole called MoreMore, and the next evening Nina arrived with gourmet chicken and veggies and a maple walnut pie in a chocolate crust. Today features Tim’s quiche Lorraine for On-The-Go-Sunday Brunch between morning chores and boiling. We feel so grateful.

Northern Vermont might get a freeze Monday night.

Clarification of the mystery photo in last week’s post.
A young palette is educated.

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