March teases us with a promise too often unfulfilled. This year it is coming in like a lion with subzero and single digit temperatures and snow, more snow. And, who knows, March may go out like a lion as well.
It is a long month, unbroken by three-day weekends or major holidays. St. Patrick’s Day has to carry all the weight with its parades and controversies, its green beer and Irish soda bread. And then there’s the traditional corned beef and cabbage, also known as a New England boiled dinner. While we’re singing the “Wearing of the Green” and donning our green outfits, we’re hoping that the earth will treat us with at least a few blades of green grass.
Here in New Hampshire and Vermont, “sugaring” is the big event. Those involved in sugaring keep a close watch on the thermometer as for sap to “run” there must be cold nights (20 degrees) followed by daytime 40 degrees. Once the sap starts to run, it might be collected in buckets or carried by plastic line to the sugar house where it is boiled down. It takes 45-50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. It,s a very “iffy” business because the number of days the sap runs, the quality of the sap from the tree, and how long you boil it all affect the flavor and the color. Of course this really impacts commercial sugaring.
The real fun is in the small “sugar -on-snow” parties that are held privately or the larger ones that are fund-raisers. First you collect fresh clean snow and then boil some syrup until just before the soft-ball stage. You pour or ladle the syrup onto the snow which sets it and voila a delicious sweet treat which you can pick up with fingers or fork. Back in the day, after a few tastes of this delicacy, you might bite into a sour pickle to cut the sweetness.
Unfortunately, mud season occurs at about the same time or shortly thereafter. Already many town roads are posted for weight limits and the “Frost Heaves” signs are ready. If possible you should avoid dirt roads as getting stuck in the mud is serious business.
Daylight Savings Time now comes so early that next week it will still be dark at 7A.M.
Sometimes Easter comes in March, but not this year which is fortunate because
I think there will still be banks of snow . One Good Friday I remember standing in snow at the cemetery where the outdoor stations of the cross ended. And also, the snow might thwart the Easter Bunny in the delivery of colored eggs and fattening
If it snowed in March, my mother used to say, “Don’t worry. It won’t stay on the ground long,” Sorry, Mom, I’m not so sure about that this year!
© Dorothy C. Judd
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