Here in New England the seasons are strikingly different and one can change to the next quickly, or slowly, or altogether erratically. I happen to enjoy the variable climate, so while I won’t claim that winter is my favorite season, I’m glad we get the sparkling snow, frozen lakes, and bare branches of postcard wintertime. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to sip hot chocolate by the fire (and cause to appreciate the heat and humidity of summer’s dog days when they finally roll around).
But I told you winter is not my favorite. And it isn’t. Pretty to look at? Sure. But winter means snow to shovel, mittens to find, slippery roads to navigate, and it’s just danged cold and generally inconvenient. By the time February turns into March, I’m ready for spring… which around here, is still several weeks away. The sun is higher in the sky, though, the air isn’t quite so frozen, and there’s the promise of warmer weather to come.
At our house, there’s also maple sap to boil.
We run a (very) small maple syrup operation in our front yard. This year, that means a grand total of five taps dripping away, which will yield a couple of gallons of syrup by the end of the short sugaring season – just enough to keep some for household use and give a few bottles away to family and friends. But perhaps the most important part of maple sugaring season is that it’s a sign of spring. If the sap is running, crocuses, and green grass, and apple blossoms can’t be far behind…
Or can they? Just when I’m getting the spring back in my step with the warming weather, good old Mother Nature will dump another snow on us, and I’ll be outside slipping on the ice, snow-shovel in hand. And for a moment, I grumble under my breath –
Until I look around.
When I do, I find that the world has been covered with a blanket of diamonds. Everything sparkles. The air is hushed and clean and brisk. Every sharp ridge or hard point is smoothed over with gentle curves.
In the sun, it is brilliant. The snow-covered world stops me in my tracks.
Winter isn’t my favorite season. But when I actually open my eyes and see it, I don’t mind if it sticks around awhile… And if that means a couple more weeks of maple sugaring and more syrup to bottle, that’s fine too. This is pancake weather, after all.