Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sweet, Sweet March! It's Maple Syrup Time!

One of my favorite quick changes in a Northern Michigan March is the rise in temperatures during the days that launch the maple syrup season, when maple sap runs through the sugar bush to strategically placed sugar shacks. In the very old days, native people cut a hole in the Sugar Maple. They attached a wood shaving on the bottom of the hole in order to direct the maple sap towards a bark container. Later, sap dribbled into covered metal buckets or pails. Today, most sugar shacks are equipped with sophisticated plastic tubing. The maple sap follows the tubing from tree to tree and ultimately into a storage tank. At the sugar shack, the sap is boiled down until it becomes maple syrup.

Maple syrup is a true treasure because the maple sap can only be collected during the cold and brief six weeks from early March to mid-April. And, on average, a Sugar Maple will yield 40 gallons of maple sap each year, which boils down to only one gallon of maple syrup.

I'm looking forward to my annual spring binge; namely, maple syrup on my morning pancakes, waffles and French toast, maple syrup drizzled over cooking bacon and breakfast sausage, maple sticky buns, maple glazed carrots, maple butter, and the traditional March treat, hot, thick maple syrup drizzled over snow.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quick Change

The very cool thing about March in the north is the incredibly quick change in the weather, wildlife and woods. One day it's blustery winter with freezing temperatures, snow and ice. And a few days later, the roads are bared by 50 degree temperatures. One day, I take my walk in silence, noting only the animal tracks upon the snow. A few days later the racket is deafening, as the forest comes alive with darting forms emerging from dens and trees and brush piles. One day the trees and bushes look dead, and only a few days later there are green buds emerging. One day the snow banks are piled high around my home, and only a few days later the driveway has turned into a real gully washer.

These days I look forward to dramatic and quick changes. To me, quick changes always mean things are going to crack wide open and get even better, fast! I no longer dread and avoid quick changes, even though they require that I catch up, sometimes adjusting who I believe I am and what I want, on a dime. The feeling is a bit like being swept into the next change, rather than taking charge and making it happen on my own timetable. I lose control. But what a relief that can be, when changes are spontaneous and things bigger than I can conceive of or would have planned happen.