It’s spring? You could fool me.

I woke this morning to a beautiful winter’s day. The sky was blue, the sun was glinting on the newly fallen snow. Gorgeous.

A glorious winter day, on the third day of spring.

Except that it is meant to be spring. The vernal equinox has come and gone. Officially we are now three days into spring. Only at Glen Villa, it seems we are nowhere near it.

Yesterday it snowed. And snowed. And snowed some more: about a foot of the white stuff came down. The accumulation now reaches almost to the railing on second floor deck. This is not normal. This is not the way it should be.

The kitchen door is hiding somewhere under that pile of snow.

And normally, it isn’t. A few weeks ago, we tapped a section in the woods where a sugar camp used to be. The ancient maples there haven’t been tapped for over fifty years. ( I’m told that sap from old trees tastes as fresh as sap from younger ones, and I’m sure that is true. But there is no harm in testing this, is there?)  This area is shadier than the section we normally use, which explains the change. There are more evergreens in the new area, and these trees hold the snow longer, keeping it cooler for an extra week or two. We are also tapping a warmer, sunny area, so the combination extends the  season. And that means more syrup.

We put out the buckets in the first week of March, knowing that the sap would soon begin to run. But it didn’t. And it hasn’t. The buckets are empty, just hanging there, hunkered down in case there’s another storm.

Do the buckets look dejected?
I think so.

Sap runs when the temperature rises above freezing during the day and falls below freezing at night. This rise and fall acts like a pump, causing the tree’s ‘veins’ to expand and contract, forcing the sap up and out the hole we’ve ‘tapped’, and into the waiting bucket.

In a normal year, we would be collecting the sap that had dripped into those buckets, walking through snow less than ankle deep.

I took this photo on March 7, 2010. 

Or even, in some years, on bare ground.

Collecting the sap is a lot easier when you don’t have to trudge through
snow. 

We’d be boiling sap day and night, making one gallon of syrup for every 40 gallons of sap collected. (I’m told that for black maples the ratio is 30/1. Can anyone verify this?)  But not this year.

Today I tramped around outside, looking carefully for some sign of spring. I failed. So instead, I offer a photo of last year’s syrup can, 

We produced this syrup last year. 

and a pretty picture, of what spring will bring. Some day.

My favourite spring ephemeral: Jeffersonia diphylla.