A Tanka for March 22

Sugar on Snow at this past weekend’s Open House

Sun warming one cheek,
A wind chilling the other,
Earmarks of a run.
The maple buds are still tight;
Mud season is not over.

A Tanka for March 29

Brrrr, winter is back,
Frost is winning over sun,
Mud ruts are frozen.
Two days of this are welcome;
It means at least one more run.

These helpers invented “Pickle-in-a-Blanket.”

WEATHER: After the nine-day thaw, two nights of temps in the 20’s revived the sap flow. Though it stayed above freezing for five days, the daytime temp hovered around 40 rather than spiking to the disconcerting 60 degrees of the previous thaw. Currently, and temporarily, it’s a chilly 15 and snowy.

HOW’S IT RUNNING? The best run of the year began last Wednesday, March 23. Typical of this season and others, the run picked up by late afternoon and accelerated through the night. This run began in earnest at 4pm. By 10pm the sap was gushing; it gushed until 4am when the temp dropped to its low of 33 degrees. The sap ran steadily but with less vigor until the run choked off in late Sunday afternoon, March 27th. Without nightly freezes, each sap run constitutes a prolonged episode, measured in days rather than hours.

The season’s not over yet.

Once-a-year treats for Open-House visitors. Thank you for the signs, Ana.

BOILING STATUS: We have managed to keep what we call Banker’s Hours (8am to 8-10pm) all year except for Thursday, March 24th when a nearly overflowing concentrate tank prompted a 5am text to the crew. Luckily one person read the text at that hour and came right over. It would help if Chief of Operations knew when to tell the crew to come to work day by day but so often he doesn’t know. Or he sets a time and then wishes he could adjust it by an hour or two or three.

The RO works all night; there’s a graveyard-shift crew member no one ever sees who operates the RO. Thank you, Romy.

Soon after Open House ends, a geyser of syrup erupts from the filter press. It is back to normal in the sugarhouse.

FLOODLIT: All day Saturday and Sunday parents and children file through the retail room into the room where the evaporator-beast roars and steams.

SPOTLIT: A mother leads her toddler by the hand, walking a foot ahead of him. He pauses when he hears the roar of the evaporator-beast. The mother asks, “Do you want to see where they’re boiling the sap?” He grips her hand and steps toward the roar.

The stoke goes on, this time with a shovel.

[N.B. The out-of-focus photos were taken by non-photographer, yours truly. AC]

3 thoughts on “Recharge

  1. Isn’t it nice having a proper freeze? This is the first time since I’ve been in Newark that I’ve actually been able to recharge during one. The last three years, my list of woods projects has always been a mile long.

    We didn’t see the same run on Wednesday that everyone else seems to have. I think it must not have warmed up quite as violently here as elsewhere. I was working in my RO room with an equipment supplier that morning, and his phone was exploding with people letting him know it was a record breaker. But, even if we haven’t seen a proper gusher (Sunday was actually the first hard run, if only for a couple hours), sap sugar has been high (not yet below 2%!) and flows have been steady – which has kept us in the bankers hours too. It’s also yielded a good amount of March syrup in what is an April bush. Hopefully the forecast isn’t too far off for the days to come…

    Happy to keep reading your updates, and good luck this week!


  2. I’m not sure it’s any one thing that leads to my season being later. Elevation probably plays a part – our sugarhouse is just below 1600′. Climate probably plays a part – we’re borderline zone 2 here, and the temperature is often 3-8° cooler than it is at my mother’s or brother’s. Newark is also known to be a snow pocket. As I sit here typing , there’s still a foot of snow in our sun drenched, south-facing door yard, and walking in the woods with snowshoes is damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    That all said, I haven’t sugared here long enough to draw any real conclusions, and the four years I’ve been here have all been wildly different. I just know that I seem to start slower and still be accelerating as other people are tapering. I’d actually be happy if my forecast nights were a couple degrees warmer right now – freezing every night will prolong the season, but waking up to a pile of sap every morning is when we really start making syrup.


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