I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont...
I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, good vs. bad thinking, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont... read more here

Category Archives: Maple Sugaring

From Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday, VT Maple Sugaring 2017

From Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday, VT Maple Sugaring 2017

Our maple sugaring season here in Vermont tends to overlap some with Lent each year.  This year it happened to coincide perfectly.  We missed one run of sap in late February, our trees weren’t tapped as we had too many other things on our plate to get them in by then.  But by Ash Wednesday we had the trees tapped and the sap was running up from the roots again on the sunny above 40 degree days that followed freezing nights.

You never know what a sugaring season will bring.  It is all about the weather.  If there are too many warm days in a row, the trees start to bud and the sap turns and isn’t good for maple syrup any longer.  On the flip side you can be in a deep freeze for weeks and then only get a few good runs before things warm up for good.

Boiling sap is a labor of love, as I’ve explained many sugaring seasons here on this blog it takes at least 40 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup and boiling that sap off can take many many hours, not to mention the labor of collecting it!  By the end of the season, even a shorter season, we have been known to leave gallons of sap unboiled, out of exhaustion.

This is our 9th sugaring season here in Vermont, and it was by far the longest we have experienced.  It has spanned the full 40 days of Lent.

Lent is a penitential season, meaning it is a time to give some things up that might get in the way of your relationship with Jesus or add some things in that may add to it.  Lent reminds me of the tulip bulbs that are doing all their work under the surface just waiting for the snow to break, the sun to warm up, and then burst forth in glory.

What have I planted in the earth this Lent?   Well the snow this past March and some late winter fevers/colds blanketed our house and blanketed some of my Lenten practices/promises.  Just because conditions weren’t ideal doesn’t mean nothing is going on under the surface.

Lent may be over and Easter on the horizon, but my Lenten bulbs have not yet pushed up from the earth… they need a little more time in the dark and that is ok, I have faith they’ll make it to the light.  Hey, Easter isn’t quite here yet!

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This season we made double the amount of syrup we usually do and though we are a bit tired, there is a certain joy in persisting, in not letting any of that sap go to waste.  Also of course the joy to come of using and sharing our sweet syrup all year long!

If you want to get a peek into the last 40 days here, below are some pictures from our unusually long sugaring season and at the end I’ve included a little video too.

With love from Vermont,

~Lisa

 

 

We are Easter People.

We are Easter People.

We have just arrived home from our Easter celebration in Massachusetts with my family.  The boys are all neatly tucked into bed and Kevin is out harvesting sap from our maple trees as our buckets are overflowing from two days of sap runs in our absence.

Lent ended last week.  It is that time of preparation for our hearts where we either give up the things that are keeping us from getting closer to God or we take on things that will help us grow closer to him.  I chose to get out for a walk each day and be kinder to my husband.  The first gave me precious time for my soul so I could be more successful with the 2nd.  I hope to continue with both far beyond Lent.

You could feel the tensions build in the readings this Holy Week.  There was Palm Sunday when Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem as a king (shortly after raising Lazarus a good friend of his from the dead), to the lead up to Holy Thursday where Jesus celebrates the Last Supper with his apostles which ends with one of them turning him over to the authorities.  Then his apostles all flee in fear as Jesus is tortured and humiliated, and on Good Friday Jesus is horrifically crucified on a cross.

Holy Saturday is spent in stunned silence as his followers hide in fear and mourn the death of their hope, and then today…  some of his followers go to his tomb to pray and find it empty.  What has happened?  Where did he go?  Was he stolen?  Those questions are not immediately answered, not until later in the day and then over the next 40 days as Jesus appears to his followers over and over again and the truth is unmistakable.  He Is Risen.

Paper mache' and grass recreation of Jesus' tomb the boys and I put together this past week. We tried to improve upon our previous tomb and make it more travelable.

Paper mache’ and grass recreation of Jesus’ tomb the boys and I put together this past week. We tried to improve upon our previous tomb and make it more travelable.

 

How often are we in stunned silence in the moment?  Disoriented, fearful?  Just like the apostles on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  They couldn’t make sense of what was going on.  He was supposed to be their king, to lead them to freedom.

I see a lot of myself in the apostles.  I often say in my heart “Jesus l give you all of me, do with me what you want.” and I mean it when I say it, but then things get tough and I am disoriented in my heart and end up saying to him “Oh, no you didn’t mean THAT though did you? That is too hard!”.

How could Jesus’ brutal humiliation on the cross or my –fill in the blank with any thing I don’t want to do– be part of the PLAN???

It’s not supposed to be easy, this life.  If it doesn’t make us cringe a little, if we aren’t giving up something, then we cannot be transformed.  Jesus knew this so well.  He gave us his all to free us from the parts of ourselves that we tend to cling to, the parts he sees keeping us back.

Jesus sees how very beautiful we are.  He can look beyond all our little and big sins to our potential.  The potential each and every one of us has.  He’s got a plan that he revises each moment of our lives.  We can help him complete it if we decide to look to him and listen.  To listen even when it means carrying his cross for a mile or two or three…

Pouring sap into holding containers.

Pouring sap into holding containers.

 

…We thought this sugaring season was a bust a few weeks ago.  With no snow on the ground to keep our perishable sap from spoiling we have to boil each run of sap as it comes in.  That was ok when we were thinking it was a short season and the warm weather would make the buds on the trees open and it would be over soon as the sap wouldn’t be good for sugaring anymore.  Then you just pull the taps out of the trees, wash out and put away the containers, lines, and pans.

Well that hasn’t been the story.  So far we’ve made 7 gallons of syrup from about 280 gallons of sap.  It has been our biggest yield since we’ve been sugaring.  That has meant some long nights in the sugar shack, a whole lot of persistence, and even a little faith.

Sugaring seasons on average are about 4 weeks long and by the end we are often tired and yes we have been known to waste some sap instead of boil it at the end because we just felt spent.

So far we are keeping on keeping on.  We’ll see how the season turns out and if we boil every last drop of sap (you know we’ll kick ourselves in the summer if we don’t do it now when the getting is good).

I know making maple syrup for 4 weeks is hardly a great cross to carry, but it is where our family is at right in this very moment, THIS Easter.

Steam rising out of our sugar shack.

Steam rising out of our sugar shack.

 

Leaning into the collecting, the boiling, the feeding the fire, the waiting, all while carrying on with all the other aspects of our busy lives…  Four weeks of persistence rewarded with gallons and gallons of sweetness.

Who doesn’t want gallons and gallons of sweetness?

We are ALL Easter people, we are made truly alive by the challenges we face.  I don’t know about you, but I want to see what plan Jesus has for me and the goodness that I can’t even comprehend.  Oh God give me faith and persistence and yes, gallons and gallons of sweetness!!

Happy Easter Everyone!!

HE IS RISEN, Alleluia, Alleluia!!

Love,

~Lisa

That Sweet Vermont Season

That Sweet Vermont Season

We’ve been prepping all week for a run.  Those cold nights and warm days that wake the sleeping sap from roots to limbs.  Drilling holes, tapping trees, cleaning out holding barrels.  Today was the day, the sap ran and ran.  It’s been 8 years of Sugaring seasons for me now. I’ve been going through myContinue Reading

Last Day of Sugaring Season

Well here we are.  Sunny and warm, no more freezing nights for at least the next week. Spring.  Is.  Here. At least as far as the maple trees are concerned.  The sap run is drip drip dripping to a close today. And what a day it was… Boys running back and forth and sideways playingContinue Reading

Date Night at the Sugar Shack

That title sounds romantic doesn’t it?  Ha ha ha or racy I guess. To some it might sound just a bit boring.  As with most things though the truth lies somewhere in between. After all 7 babies/big kids were in bed last night I finally got to join Kevin for a few minutes out atContinue Reading

The Sap is Running, the Sap is Running!

Ha ha, I felt like Chicken Little this afternoon, except instead of “The sky is falling!”, it was “the sap is running!”.  It has been a very slow start to the season.  Perfect weather for sap production is below 30 degrees at night and then a sunny day above freezing, mostly the nights have beenContinue Reading

Sugaring 2015 ~Palm Sunday and we have a sugar shack!

Today is Palm Sunday.  It is the first day of Holy Week leading up to Good Friday the day Christ was crucified and Easter Sunday when three days later he rose from the dead.  It is the day we recite Christs’ Passion (the events leading up to the crucifixion) during Mass.  It is the dayContinue Reading

Waiting on Spring.

  As beautiful as today is I am just aching for spring to make it to Vermont.  Clouds thick as the snow on the ground and bright blue skies. ——————————————- Our sap buckets and other riff raff are just hanging out with trees untapped.  Hopefully sometime this week we’ll put them to their use asContinue Reading

Sugar (and sugar shacks) baby that’s where it’s at…

The past two months my life has been devoid of sugar, dairy, breads, and most fruits.  This radical diet has cleared up the multitude of rashes I encountered since giving birth to ~O six months ago.  What started as a test of discipline and will got to the point where I was actually afraid toContinue Reading

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