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April 17, 2023 One of the joys of making maple syrup is tying oneself so closely to the seasons. You can't make syrup if you aren't actively watching and reacting to seasonal weather patterns and changes.

In January, you check the long-range weather forecast on a daily basis (well, sometimes hourly...), watch the snow depth, and then jump in to sterilize the tree taps, install them, clean all the equipment, assemble the evaporator, buy propane for the burner, and buy new collection jugs.

From then on, you're outside every day, and sometimes twice a day, looking for "flow" - when the sap begins to move up into the trees and out into our buckets. And when the flow begins, you're pulling the sled or towing the trailer, then climbing up and down the bank collecting sap, then either adding it to the evaporator or dumping it into the storage tanks, and monitoring the boil and the developing sugar concentration.

All this occurs no matter what the weather is throwing at you at the moment, whether that is a gentle, silent fall of cotton ball-sized flakes, sleet driven horizontally by a roaring wind, or snowcover as hard as styrofoam or turning to soft and wet knee-deep slush.

Then suddenly, it's Spring. And as quickly as the flow started, it stops. That was certainly the case this year. We were collecting 40 gallons of sap a day, then 20 gallons over two or three days, then 10 gallons over a week, and then - nothing.

This sounds silly, but while I cherish the changing of the seasons and am eventually happy to have back those couple hours each day for other pursuits, I kind of miss it right away. All that remains is cleaning, cleaning, cleaning everything, putting it all away in the barn.

And waiting for next January when it can begin all over again...


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