Monday, May 27, 2013


Spring in North Central Vermont has come and gone, or is finally on the way out. It's 38 degrees out at the moment and there's a frost warning out for this evening.

At least it stopped raining. For the moment.

This winter was a real winter and the Rampaging Snow Beast saw a lot of use this winter. Not like last winter where the brand new snow blower sat in the garage, trotted out but a handful of times.

So ist das Leben.

Spring, when it starts is a tough call up here. But, there is a definite sign that Spring has arrived.

Sugaring Season.

When the collection of maple sap begins, it's Spring.

Nowadays, you see the pros linking the taps on the trees with plastic tubing which snakes through the woods about waist high. The tubing eventually winds its way to stainless steel collection tanks.

Which now have chains and locks on them to preserve their contents until the lawful owners show up.

It's a problem up here.

For those of us not in the business, the sign that spring is here looks like this:

My neighbor on the corner tapping the maple trees in his front yard.

This marks the official arrival of Spring. It lasts for several weeks if we're lucky for there is a lot of revenue derived thereof. While it's not exactly liquid gold, it's not cheap.

And the tourists expect it. And tourism is a big deal up here. Really big.

Like, folks will stop coming up here if they don't find maple syrup.

Well, not exactly, but when you come to Vermont as a touristy-type, you expect some things.

Mountains, Green, one each.

Bed and Breakfasts.

And Maple Syrup. You can't run a tourist stop without it.

Genuine Vermont Maple Syrup.

If you've not had it, it's good stuff. It's worth the cost and really is different than the colored, thickened, sugar water pushed off on the undiscerning.

With any luck, sugaring season runs for at least three or four weeks. The days are above freezing and the nights just below freezing. This is the perfect weather for the sap to flow. Once they've collected it, they boil it down until it thickens to the right consistency and taste.

40 gallons of maple sap produces 1 gallon of maple syrup. The sugaring shacks are where they boil it down and the folks that do this put in long, hard, lonely hours. The boiling continues 24x7 while the season lasts so the sugaring folks toil diligently while they can.

Those that tap the trees in their yards and produce their own syrup are called back yard sugarers. For those of us not from up here, the whole concept of tapping the trees in your yard and making your own maple syrup is cool. Like walking out in your back yard and picking a banana off a bush in your backyard (been there, done that, and it was really cool).

As for the official end of Spring, that does not exactly coincide with the end of sugaring season.

Not even close.

There are, however, signs every bit as definitive as the proverbial burning bush. The appearance of the old cars.

The coupes. The Mustangs. The Model Ts.

The '79 Celica.

When my neighbor takes his '79 Celica out of storage and parks it in his driveway, I know that I can take the snow tires off of my car, the snow is over.

And everything blooms. Everything. Riotously.

This is what the end of spring looks like.

I like Winter. I enjoy the cold, the bite of the cold morning air, the squeak of fresh, dry snow underfoot as you walk upon it.

But I like seasons and despite my love of Winter, I found that this year I really was ready.

For Spring.


  1. There is nothing like the four seasons in Northern New England. I used to enjoy the harsh winters as they made spring so much more lovely. Not so much anymore, though spring in New England, particularly Vermont, is gorgeous. (Having grown up there, I'm partial to the Green Mountains of my youth.)

    1. While I truly do love winter, and the seasons, I was surprised at how welcome I found Spring when it first showed itself. Very surprised. Now, the lilacs are all blooming, my poppies will bloom in another week or so, and the mud is mostly gone. I love spring, but not mud season. I will miss here, we're dead in the Green Mountains and every direction includes several (though after the Sierras and the Rockies, these really do make me think of hills) mountains. But, it won't be that far away and I'll still have seasons and civilization too!

  2. I love New England in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Unfortunately... that's just about four months!

    I need to put this sugar season thing on my bucket list. I think I need to take my husband up there one spring when the kids are gone and do the B&B during sugaring season.

  3. During sugaring season you can still do the sleigh ride through snow covered woods. Or walk around scenic, snow covered towns (like Woodstock) during the day when it's not too cold. It's nice. Fall is nicer though and prettier. Do both! Obviously, separate trips though. :-)