Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sugar days

by June
Can you tell we've been a little frozen up?

It's been a winter of hugging the woodstove (and one another) as the wind howled, the furnace rumbled, and the snow mounted. I know that somewhere it is already spring. The calendar says so. But here we are still swinging between frigid nights and days that are often bright but bracing. Fortunately, that's perfect weather for gathering maple sap to boil down into syrup.

We have a wedding tree on our place. It was an old New England tradition to plant a sugar maple in the front yard—to celebrate a wedding. Our tree has four trunks—a sugar clump, we call it. It is always gloriously ablaze for our October wedding anniversary, and then in spring it graces us with more sweetness...a bountiful run of sap that pitter pats into the buckets. If we're diligent about keeping the fire going, that clump can give us syrup for a year's worth of pancakes and popovers and lemonade.

When we are at the sugar clump, we notice that even though the taps are often iced up, some signs of spring are here. The light is crisp and warm. Robins hop about on the patches of grass where the snow has retreated. The mourning doves coo to one another in the firs. Daffodil spears are slicing up through the soil and lilac buds are swelling. Spring will come. Summer too. And when it does, some hot afternoon, we'll have a glass of maple lemonade and think of these cold days of almost-spring.

We hope this favorite lemonade recipe of ours will be enough for you to forgive us our long absence here. It's such an easy drink to make, yet it is the most refreshing treat on earth. Squeeze six lemons into a glass pitcher, then add about a half-cup of maple syrup (more or less to taste). You can add a little sugar if you want to boost the sweetness but preserve the precious syrup. Grate a little lemon zest into the pitcher. Add ice and water until it tastes right to you. (We've learned that this recipe is flexible and personal. Each one of us angles it a slightly different way.)

If this tardy missive of ours reaches you (and if you haven't given up on us), please send word back. We've missed our friends, each of you. Is it spring where you are? We welcome reports of buds and blossoms and nesting birds.


Nicole said...

So nice to have you back! Our spring is just arriving, our birds have come back but no buds yet. Snow is melting and the sun feels warmer. Lovely pictures (as always!)

Emily said...

The snow is melting her in NH and today I found an overwintered pansy that decided to bloom! Spring will come.

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

I smile when I see an update from Four Green Acres. I missed you guys! Sometimes life just happens, trust me, I know!

The maple syrup looks amazing. I can just imagine how great it tastes.

Give those beautiful girls a hug form their RI buddy.

from the ozarks said...

Spring is in full swing in the Ozarks. Robins, Purple Martins and Finches are all a flutter. Garden greens are dancing on top of the warming black soil, and grass has been mowed twice.Blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are plumping their buds,and the cherry tree is trying so hard not to bloom before the last frost, so as to keep us in her wonderful fruit again this year.
The spring air is filled with the shufflings of graduates and brides.
Tulips,lillies, and lilacs are opening up to show us their vibrant colors and sweet smells.
Hope spring arrives at your corner of the world as bright, breezy and as brillant as it has at ours.

June said...

Oh, it is so sweet to hear from all of you! And how wonderful to know that spring is making itself known far and wide. We love reports of pansies and tulips and brides!

But watch out, dear Lisa. More snow is headed up the eastern seaboard. We'll be thinking of you Friday! xo

tom | tall clover farm said...

June, so glad to see this new post and hear of your family's latest adventures. I love maple syrup, love it. In fact maple creams are my favorite homemade candy.

Over here on the West Coast of Washington State, we are experiencing torrents of rain like I've never seen--like a giant fire hose off the Pacific pelting us daily. The meteorologists have run out of ways to say it, so today they came up with this for the forecast, " Really, really hard rain." Here's to the coming of spring on both coasts!

Conny said...

It is most definitely Spring today. Although I've neglected my own blog since Christmas, I've still been reading them. :>) Glad to know you and your family survived the winter. Cheers~

J.G. said...

Big rains and winds here in Florida. Not exactly springlike!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Good to see you back June. Our weather up to last week was hideous, replete with falling trees, mud and rockslides. Today though...it was 85 degrees. Erratic would be a good word for the weather. But after 14 inches of rain in March, I'm grateful to see the sun.

I can just imagine how truly wonderful it would be to put up your own maple syrup each year! That's not something we'll ever manage here. The lemonade recipe sounds delightful. I've never had lemonade with maple syrup, and now I'm very curious!

Laurie said...

Happy to see your post! It is spring here, though a bit erratic yet. The daffodils, peaches and cherry have bloomed, followed by a frost :o( Picked my first lilacs yesterday, and brought them in the house. Birds are busy, and I delight in seeing the perennials pushing up.

Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

Oh I love the photo of the close up bucket and your beautiful daughter in the background! Really great..I've nver tasted the maple lemmonade, but you sure have piqued my attention!
today, but we're expecitng to inches of snow tomorrow..Love lvining in the Rockies! Happy Spring to you all and hug the goats and the chickies for me :-)

Love from Utah!

tom | tall clover farm said...

June I just found out from a friend we can make birch syrup here, only thing is he told me it takes twice as much sap. ;-)

Unknown said...

We never really freeze around here, but I feel for you! This is really cool, the whole process. I love the photo with the kid-bokeh too!

Kris said...

Glad to see you posting again, June. I wish I could regale you with spring stories, but winter continues to overstay its welcome here at the gardens. I hope your sweet syrup brings you lots of treats this year. Hopefully we'll both see some better weather ... eventually. :-D

Garden Girl said...

Hi there June! Spring has been in England for a good long while now, and looking out of the window today I can see our apple trees in blossom and tulips all over. And the most telling sign? The lawnmowers are out! Hope it doesn't take too long getting to you, but enjoy your syrup days while you have them :-)

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