Monday, February 20, 2017
Signs Of Approaching Spring
There are signs of a change in the weather everywhere. The ice coated lane is now mostly soft muddy gravel. Bluebirds were seen feeding on the sumac berries yesterday. They will not stay here long as they are only scouting out suitable nesting sites. We were drawn outside to sit on the garden bench by incredibly bright and warm sunlight. Our first plant order has been placed.
Active maple sap lines and collecting containers now line the road. This is the third year that an attempt to harvest a natural product here has been tried. Unusual weather has ended the sap run early for the past two years. All of the work that went into establishing the lines and setting up an evaporator have produced nearly nothing. A sap run must have freezing nights followed by warm days. Cold drives the sap toward the roots while warmth draws the sap up to the branches. Sap can be collected only when it is moving up or down in the trunk. In past years several continuously warm days stopped the sap run. When leaf buds begin to swell the sap acquires a bitter taste and is unusable for making table syrup. The first sap flow can be seen in the bottom one third of the container. Following last night's freeze, the sap should really be running today.
Arbutus leaves are emerging from the snow cover. Both the dark coloration of the plant leaves and the stones capture warmth from the sunlight. That heat melts the snow creating clear circles around the stones and exposed leaves. On a day like today it is easy to see why arbutus leaves are eaten by animals. Where else can bright inviting green leaves be found at this time of year?
Walking about on soft snow is hard on old arthritic joints. One never knows if the snow will partially support a foot or if it will drop to a jarring halt. More warm days will further compress the snow and we will venture farther away from home. It is much to early in the year for daytime temperatures that reach well into the fifties. We can do nothing about that so we might as well enjoy the pleasant time outside.