a sap run

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

Before the bud swells, before the grass springs, before the plow is started, comes the sugar harvest. It is the sequel of the bitter frost; a sap run is the sweet goodbye of winter.
~ John Burroughs
(Signs & Seasons)

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

We had no idea what a treat we were in for when we checked into a motel in Orange, Massachusetts Saturday night. Our plan was to spend the night, grab a breakfast somewhere, and head over to a family reunion in the neighboring town of Athol on Sunday afternoon. In the morning we discovered a great place to have breakfast, on Johnson’s Farm, a restaurant, sugar house, and gift shop! Maple syrup production was well under way, the old-fashioned way.

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

Sugar weather is crisp weather. How the tin buckets glisten in the gray woods; how the robins laugh; how the nuthatches call; how lightly the thin blue smoke rises among the trees! The squirrels are out of their dens; the migrating waterfowls are streaming northward; the sheep and cattle look wistfully toward the bare fields; the tide of the season, in fact, is just beginning to rise.
~ John Burroughs
(Signs & Seasons)

If only some way could be found to share the smell of New England in maple sugar season on a blog post! Our olfactory receptors were tickled with delight to whiff in the aromas of wood-burning stoves and sap boiling down into syrup. We bought a couple of jugs of pure maple syrup! Mostly we’ll be using it in marinades, since pancakes are no longer on our grain-free diet…

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

It was if we had been transported back in time to a place in the heart of New England. It made me appreciate anew that there are more “seasons” than the four four we normally notice as the year goes around. The gnarly old tree in the above picture caught our attention – what an amazing life it has had. And I loved the knotty pine interior of the sugar house in the picture below – so typical of New England.

3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts
3.10.13 ~ Orange, Massachusetts

When we got home Sunday night Zoë and Scarby seemed a little angry with us (ears pinned back, ignoring us) for leaving them overnight, but they’re back to purring and following us around, rubbing our legs and talking to us again.

29 thoughts on “a sap run”

  1. What a treat it is for me, to see actual photos of the maple syrup being collected from the trees Barbara! This process fascinates me, probably in the same way as bees collecting the pollen to make honey, such a natural and sweet gift of nature.

    Hmm, I’m very behind in reading what you have been up to lately, but…. Zoe and Olga sound like they might be cats. Could it be….???? 🙂

    1. Mmmmm… I love honey just as much as maple syrup! Mother Nature’s sweeteners are surely the best, and honey seems to have medicinal qualities, too. Yes, Zoë and Olga are the two tortoiseshell cats we adopted from my sister-in-law, who was moving to Europe and had to find a home for them. Life has gotten a lot more interesting, in a very pleasant way, around here! I’m close to the end of “The Enchanted April” book, too. Loving it! 🙂

        1. I hope you loved the movie – it was a little different than the book, but I think they compliment each other nicely. 🙂

  2. Hi Barbara,
    Thanks for sharing the maple syrup outing with us.
    I’ve been to maple syrup shacks in early spring in Canada. It’s a really beautiful experience and I know what you mean about the smell – such a shame you couldn’t share it with us.

    What a lovely spot for a family reunion.

    I also would like to know who Olga and Zoe are?

    1. Ah, Rosie, so you are familiar with the aromas of the sugar harvest. Perhaps some day in the future we will go around with little devices that take scent “shots” of the places we visit and then we can share them on our blogs in much the same way we share snapshots now.

      You must have missed my post about the arrival of our new cats, Zoë and Olga. See: http://www.ingebrita.net/archives/13284

    1. You’re welcome – I’m so happy you enjoyed the post, Laurie! Nothing quite like this sweet goodbye of winter…

  3. What sweet, clear and cold days! It’s unseasonably hot in Los Angeles, and I’m so glad of this chance to escape into such purity!

    1. Aubrey, I’m so happy I could give you a small break from the heat in Los Angeles! One of the things I love about living in New England is the changing of the seasons…

    1. I wonder if your sugar season is a little later than ours, since you are farther north up there in New Brunswick? I love the buffalo check coats, too – when worn outside they are bright spots in the gray woodland landscape…

    1. It is fun! When we were first married Tim’s aunt and uncle used to make their own maple syrup and it was always such a pleasure to drive up and visit them when production was under way.

    1. Thank you, Hanneke! If you ever come to this part of the world in the month of March we will make sure you get a chance to smell the aromas. 🙂

  4. Oh so sweet, reminded me of the sugarcane farms that we have, and yes now is the season. Juicy chewy sugary canes.. Aah! Thank you Barbara, for the seasons pictures from your side, so good! 🙂

    1. Molasses! I’ve never seen a sugar cane farm before, Sonali, so I did a Google image search to see what your farms might look like. And then I was reminded of molasses, which is made from sugar cane. I used to keep a jar of blackstrap molasses for a granola recipe I used to make… Do you use molasses in Indian cuisine, too?

      1. Oh Yes, We do use Molasses. We have some of the wonderful recipes with it I love it. We make a sweet dish by bringing coconut milk to a boil and adding Molasses, you can add any dry fruits to it..oh the lovely aroma! 😀

        1. That sounds very good, Sonali! Do you use equal amounts of coconut milk and molasses? Or more of one or the other? Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Wow – it has been said that we learn something new every day – I’ve never heard of birch syrup before!!! Now I’m eager to find some and try it – hmmm – I wonder if we import any from Scandinavia…

  5. Lovely outing for you, Barbara … and I could see it, smell it, taste it, through your words and the quotes you shared. I am sure Zoe and Olga have forgiven you! XO

    1. I think I learned from a TV-news-magazine that it is Quebec that produces 80% of the world’s maple syrup! I guess New England and New York don’t amount to much of the international market. 🙂

      Alas, Zoë holds a bit of a grudge at times. Whenever I put my shoes on to leave the house she pins her ears back and scowls at me. It takes her a couple of hours to forgive me when I do return home… *hugs*

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