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April 5, 2023 Spring in Maine is like being on a weather rollercoaster. Mark Twain put it one way when he said, ““If you don't like New England weather, wait a few minutes.”

April is a particularly unpredictable month. Today the temperature is supposed to peak at 77 degrees. Yet, just a week ago, it was a chilly 45 with a nighttime low of 17. Today there is barely a breeze, and yet a couple of days ago we felt wind gusts as high as 30 mph.

We may even get a last few inches of snow. Who knows? It’s hard to tell in April. My grandfather called such a snowfall “poor man’s manure.” He would spread grass seed on the bare patches of our lawn before the first flakes fell, knowing that the snow would melt quickly in the warm sun, and the seed would be drawn down into the soil to germinate. By May those bare patches would be covered in new grass.

Sowing grass seed before the last snow fall: such a merging of the seasons here in New England! Such trust in the changing of the seasons!

Here at Little Farm, we again watch the long range forecast in April, just as we did back in February when we determined the optimal time to put our taps in. Now in April, we want to be sure to catch any final sap flow. However, I suspect we will end the season this weekend.

We’ve made more than 10 gallons of syrup – some of it is the lightest we have ever produced, some of it is that deep medium amber, and some is dark in color. Each batch tastes different, which is why we love to make our syrup in small batches. It ranges from exceedingly delicate to buttery to intensely rich and full - perfect for cooking as well as for pancakes!

The old timers say that the syrup season is over when the buds break open. The buds on our maple trees have not opened into leaves yet. However, I noticed our forsythia was beginning to green up, and the willow tree down by our pond is turning yellow.

Robins have been all over our side lawn, and the bees in our two hives seem to have made it through the winter and are awaiting the first dandelion nectar flow. I haven’t heard the peepers yet, but I did hear a robin singing its heart out perched high in our old apple tree this morning.

All these signs of spring - but who knows what the last couple of weeks of April will bring. I remember one year we had a blizzard late in the month.

I think Robert Frost summarized it best in his poem, “Two Tramps in Mud Time” when he wrote this verse:

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.

You know how it is with an April day

When the sun is out and the wind is still,

You're one month on in the middle of May.

But if you so much as dare to speak,

A cloud comes over the sunlit arch, A wind comes off a frozen peak, And you're two months back

in the middle of March.

Wherever you are, enjoy your Spring!

- Nancy

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