This is March and this is New Hampshire. What does that mean? It means today was a beautiful spring day with lots of sunshine and warm air. It means sap was rising in the tress and the local farmers are getting, well, almost giddy.
It means today, after work, we were able to take a nice walk up to the old church at the end of our road. As we walked, we passed a multitude of old sugar maple trees tapped and maintained by our neighbor, Stuart. We happened to bump into Stuart, more or less, on his rounds of gathering said sap. Stuart, a real Yankee, was feeling giddy. He was smiles and excitement, but also concern.
You see, this year he is already 250 gallons behind on his sap production. The cold weather has not been helpful. You need days in the 40’s and nights in the 20’s to get good sap running and this winter has just not been accommodating.
But Stuart is a Yankee, and giddy, and it is almost spring. He was happy (almost elated) to see us and even happier to show us his maple syrup production. From new fangled filters to old fashioned knowhow. His set up is quite impressive and I wish I could give you a more detailed description of how it works. I may have an MBA, but Stuart is, well, a Yankee. He explained the reverse osmosis process and how he tests for atmospheric pressure to make the syrup just right. This is no longer a process in which you boil down a bunch of sap. Oh no. This is high tech, man. This is new age.
His concern, of course, is with the coming storm and the following cold temperatures. Freezing temperatures makes the sap freeze. From junior high science class, you may remember that when liquid freezes, it expands. So Stuart was trying to empty as many of his containers as he could before the build up of sap in the buckets froze and expanded and overflowed.
For Stuarts sake, and the sake of all the local farmers, I am hoping that spring will come and at a moderate pace. You see, if it warms up too fast and the trees start to bud…well…that means no more sap. And no more sap means a shortage of maple syrup. And that is bad!
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I LOVE real maple syrup. I love it on my pancakes, on my waffles, on my crepes, my French toast and especially in my special maple cake. Mmmmmm!
So while the other bloggers out here in our blogosphere are posting pictures of flowers to bring on spring, I am posting a picture of sap buckets to remind spring that, while “YES” we want spring, but we want it in a moderate rate so we can have lots of sap and lots of wonderful New Hampshire maple syrup!