Tuesday, March 17, 2015


When we lived in Colorado, the gardeners at our community garden told us to plant greens on St. Patrick's day.  This seemed crazy to me, sheer madness.  At the time, I couldn't figure out why I struggled to accept their wisdom. Now that I have been firmly back in New England for seven years and this is what St. Patrick's Day looks like here this year,

I can fully understand why I was hesitant to think putting seeds in the ground in March was a good idea.

Seven years we have been back and I think this is the time of year I love the most. Winters can be hard here, this one was. But as soon as you feel the turning of the corner into spring, you feel like anything is possible. Spring can feel like a hard-earned gift. I love this time of year; I love the return of the birds' song and the squish of the dirt road beneath my feet as it is softened by the sun and melting snow.  I love the familiar plink, plink, plink of sap dripping into a metal pail, the sweet sounds of sugaring season.

We have been sugaring for seven years on a very small scale and while some years it might not seem worth all of the effort, if you have never had real maple syrup, I can tell you it is definitely worth it.  You see, I hail from the Chicago suburbs, where the syrup of my childhood came from plastic bottles with images of log cabins, filled with maple flavoring.  I am embarrassed to say I had no idea as a child that maple syrup came from trees, and so you could bet my children would.  Each year as the sun shines longer and warmer and the snow begins to melt, we tap our maples and our kids enjoy the splendors of living in a magical place where sugar flows from the trees. We gratefully collect it in buckets and boil their sap on our wood stove, making our house, for two weeks of the year, smell like Candyland.

sap buckets

sap starting to cook down on the woodstove

New Englanders, avert your eyes, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do

finishing the syrup off on the stove

the kitchen is transformed into a steamy sugar shack

our first batch

I love this time of year, feeling the transition from winter to spring, and all of the magic that comes from sugar and mud.  While I would be lying if I didn't say planting seeds this St. Patrick's Day sounds a little bit like magic of it's own, I'll happily take the magic I am gifted right where I am.

There is magic everywhere.  What are the gifts of the season where you are?

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