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Wait, Wait…


Did anybody see the animals lining up two-by-two down by the bridge?  Holy Cow! (Bull and cow, if you want to get technical.)  What wild weather!  March, acting like a typical cat, couldn’t wait to “come in like a lion” and pounced on the last day of February.  What a crazy Monday.  Flood warnings were posted all over northeast Ohio.  Ice was churning down rivers at some of the highest levels in decades.  Garrettsville was swamped for a while, with police barricades on village streets…including   in front of the firehouse.  Low spots turned into lakes and caused motorists to slow to a crawl to avoid the “paddlewheel” effect. {with apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson : Flooding to the north of us, Flooding to the west of us, Flooding to the east of us , Flood at our center.  Scarce one from G-Ville could exit or enter…. “Charge of the Light Brigade”}

Then the temperature proceeded to drop like a stone and it was back to snow again.  How often in winter do we have the high temperature  for the day arrive at just after midnight…or hear thunder and see lightning through clouds of ground fog?  While it’s pounding down rain?  Good grief!

If we are to be compensated for the sturm und drang of this whole episode, it may well be in an outstanding sap run this year.  Warm during the day/cold at night is supposed to be the magic formula and we’ve been approaching that–more or less–for a couple of weeks now.  It’s probably not much fun for the maple producers, having to slosh out to the sugarbush to check the buckets–dilution is not our friend; it already takes upwards of forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup… or the lines, if plastic tubing is involved, our little rodent friends love that stuff… and the sugar shack to keep the boilers going full bore.  At least hanging around roaring fires gives some hope that your toes will not freeze and drop off to rattle around in your boots.  Tromping out in the woods does not have that benefit.

One thing I remember from my misspent youth (what a cutie– navy blue snow suit and stocking cap, dark boots with frozen toes inside) was riding on the back end of a sap vat on a horse-drawn sledge through the woods and winding up at the sugarhouse to eat hot dogs,  either boiled in the sap or roasted on sticks at the fire under the boiler.  The organizers of the operation always kept dill pickles and saltine crackers handy to cut the sweetness a little…heck, everyone was out there for the day and wound up drinking sap rather than hauling water out to the woods.  For a change, every so often, somebody would put a small pot on the fire someplace and cook some syrup down to soft ball or hard ball stage and then pour it on snow to make what was known as maple taffy.  You could also cool the stuff a little and beat it together with snow to make “maple ice cream” (It was wise in that situation to check the snow very carefully…yellow snow does NOT make vanilla.).  I have a feeling that is not quite how things are conducted nowadays.  Perhaps a field trip to Apple Maple Products is in order.

Actually, a quick check of the “You’re Invited” section indicates that an inquisitive sort could find several places to find out possibly more about maple product production than they ever wanted to know.  Give one a shot.  It’s bound to be interesting.

Also interesting is the proliferation of  pancake breakfasts… lunches…dinners…suppers…whatever now showing up in just about every neighborhood hereabouts.  Butter melting. Syrup flowing.  Sausage sizzling.  Buckwheats rule!

Get out and enjoy the fruits–metaphorically speaking–of the season.  We might as well get something out of it.  ”The lamb” part of March won’t be “waggin’ his tail behind him” for a while yet.