“How did the season end up?” asked Barb the bookkeeper.
“I hope the season finished strong,” wrote a friend from the West.
“What sort of year was it?” asked Patty when she placed a phone order.
“Did you have a good season?” asked Wendy at Mac’s Market.

“Good.”
“Yuh, it did.”
“Good.”
“Yuh, we did.”

It reminds me of returning home from a trip.
Someone always asks, “How was your trip?”
“It was good.”
Or, “Did you have a good trip?”
“Yes, thanks.”

In most cases, that’s all anyone wants to hear. I savour the trip’s moments by myself or with others who were with me.

I’ll savour the moment during cleanup when the vacuum pump didn’t drone for once because Larry and Chops chose not to rinse tubing in the cold rain, and I, alone in the empty evaporator room, organizing tools, put on a CD of sea shanties whose strong lyrics propelled me into a canyon of melancholy rendered more gloomy by the dark day and my knowing that the boiling scene of 2022 – theatre of comaraderie, crises, chore choreography, April Fools foolery, tedium, fatigue, and maple aroma – was the trip I’d just come home from and couldn’t possibly describe to anyone who wasn’t there, even if they were truly interested.

Stan Rogers is an iconic Canadian singer-songwriter and contemporary of ours who left an outsized mark on the folk music world in his 33 years on earth. His son Nathan Rogers carries on and is expanding the family musical legacy. The Mary Ellen Carter is “my” song for 2022.

But, since you asked, I will add that up and down and across Vermont, maple producers are pleased, very pleased, with their yields. (Recall that the 2021 crop was low; it followed a bumper crop in 2020.) Most everyone harvested a full crop or more of maple syrup. For some, there was a bumper crop. At Nebraska Knoll, Chief of Operations calculates the crop as the average of annual yields going back to the year more than a decade ago when we completed setup of tubing on state land and accompanying new infrastructure, taking into account yearly adjustments in tap totals.

Here is a snapshot of our 2022 syrup crop. Each bottle represents one day of boiling. Read them left to right, top to bottom. Can you discern the mini-seasons? Ignore the first two bottles of early syrup. The clue is to look for a dark bottle with a light bottle to its right. Each of the three mini-seasons ended with dark syrup. A spell of freezing weather recharged the trees between mini-seasons. This year, after each freeze, the grade shot straight back up to light syrup. (In other years, the contrast is less.) You’ll note that the first mini-season is by far the longest. It was the spell of April warmth in early March. April has featured cool March weather, a factor contributing to cold sugarbushes in the Northeast Kingdom enjoying extended seasons.

The angst of climate change needles everyone. For those wanting to read more, here is an article discussing some of the knowns and unknowns.
https://vtdigger.org/2022/03/11/climate-change-is-already-impacting-the-maple-sugaring-industry/

On the right, the spirited lassies of 2021; on the left, a peep at the shy, reclusive class of 2022.
Here is another reason to postpone the Ephemeral Gala. This trillium is eager but needs longer to primp. LL photo 4/28/22.

The sap moon is past, yet I reprint this painting of Ana’s for its reminder of the depths hidden below, of the love we each have for the earth, of a vision of wholeness, of those who walked here with a slower gait, and for its evocation of the spirit of bounty.

Painting by Ana Lucia Fernandez

P.S. Rats, I had hoped to include a video of the bear Larry observed on the upper Herbie lines. I may yet solve the technical issue. AC

P.P.S. How was your season? Fleuettes? Ben? Jake? Others?


6 thoughts on “How was your season?

  1. Our season was long. We last boiled on 4/23, after beginning to collect sap in February. Given a Franklin County period to collect, we produced a Franklin County volume of syrup. It always felt civilized however – there was never frantically not keeping up with sap, and there were always days off when sleep loss became dire. We finally pulled the plug when a 50 degree sunny day following a 24 degree night failed to produce much more than a quart of sap per tap. It just wasn’t worth keeping the place going for so little production, even though our flavor was late season rather than buddy.

    The real mood of this season was society, I haven’t boiled in such a social sugarhouse since being at your place, with folks dropping by even on days off. I suspect that the newness of a water fired evaporator will be gone next year, and it will just be Jennie and I quietly boiling in our little hollow past the end of the rd, but who can tell what the future holds?

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  2. I like “Given a Franklin County period to collect, we produced a Franklin County volume of syrup.” And I like knowing that folks found their way to your “little hollow past the end of the road.”

    Congratulations, and Carry On!
    AC

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