Monday, February 9, 2009

Drip, drip, drip...

Sugar Maple Leaves, frosted

Frosty Gravel Drive

The morning air has a chill.
A delicate lacy trim has been left on the maple leaves, now rusty brown and caught in the grass--left there last fall, and held by winter's snows.
Through the dark outlines of the trees, I can see patches of white, still scattered against the dim background of the woods.

Across the road, fog has settled into the lower fields.
And a pink sun slowly lights the landscape in what will be another cloudless sky.

Everything is just perfect—for sap.

Frozen drip on end of spile (spout)

Glaze of Ice in Sap Buckets

"Sugar weather," what maple syrup producers call the period in the spring characterized by freezing nights interspersed with mild, sunny days, varies geographically, and from year to year. And, for those who wait, drill in hand, to tap their trees, it is a season that is sensed, more than plotted on a thermometer or circled on the calendar. The heaviest cold has passed, and the thaw has begun. For a moment, the earth hesitates, poised at the cusp of spring.

Drip

Technically speaking, sap flow is dependent upon pressure--the relative difference between the pressure within the sapwood of the tree and the pressure of the atmosphere outside it.
It is believed, that, at temperatures below freezing, negative pressure develops within the wood, drawing liquid from the roots, into the tree. Then, as the dark bark of the tree is warmed by the sunshine of a mild spring day, the pressure inside the wood becomes greater than that outside. This positive pressure acts to press the sap out, through a taphole, if one has been drilled. That evening, if the thermometer dips below freezing, the cycle will begin again.
Because the flow is so dependent upon this daily rise and fall in temperature, the length of season may vary widely, and sometimes starts and stops, when temperatures hold steady, either as cold or warm.

Frosty Sugar Maple leaves in Grass

Beneath my feet, the ground has the softness of spring. And the promise of a clear day, will soon turn on this faucet.
Drip,
drip,
drip...

By sunset, the buckets will be full.

Sap dripping into bucket beneath tin lid


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35 comments:

Wanda said...

My eyes are playing tricks on me- I actually thought I saw that drip fall into the bucket!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I can see how your maples think it is spring. It was 66F here today. One more day like this and winter is to return. What a tease.

Deborah Godin said...

Love the romance of your description of the process, and appreciate having a look "inside" of how it all works. I think it's very exciting, reminds me of the feelings I get from reading Frost (his name does keep coming up). Beautiful the way you paced your writing with the photos of rimed leaves...

KatDoc said...

Cool! Can't wait to see more in the process of "sugaring."

~Kathi

Kelly said...

...love the science of the process mixed with the poetry of the process. Beautiful.

Heather said...

You know, I did a double- and triple-take of that photo of the glaze of ice in the sap bucket.. the pattern of the ice at around 10 o'clock sure looks a lot like a maple leaf to me!

By the way, please stop by my blog when you have a second, I have an award to pass along to you!

jozien said...

More of that sweet stuff! Thanks.
And the post so beautifully done.

Kallen305 said...

Thank you for the vivid and poetic descrpition. I now understand the process.

I bet nothing tastes better than your own maple syrup that you gathered yourself.

guild-rez said...

I love maple syrup with pancakes and waffles..
Thank you for your post, very interesting.
-Cheers.

bobbie said...

Great pictures, as always. It's a fascinating process.

giggles said...

Really? A full bucket in just a DAY??!! (Do you then boil it down immediately?)

Kathiesbirds said...

So, will you be making syrup? If you do, I'll make the pancakes!

deslilas said...

Sweetest post !

deslilas said...

Sweetest post !

deslilas said...

Sweetest post !

Carolina said...

Lovely post, beautiful photos!

photowannabe said...

Fascinating information on sugar syrup. Yumm it tastes so good.

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Very interesting, it is so fantastic to learn new stuff every day.
Great post!

Tyra

Reader Wil said...

Nina this is most interesting I had no idea how the maple syrup was won. Thank you for explaning this to us! You describe it all so poetically.

ramblingwoods.com said...

I am reading a book about trees and this is all so interesting as I never thought about it, but it is a wonder of mother nature...Great for ABC Wed...Michelle..

Janie said...

I love maple syrup. Hope you have a good production year.

Babooshka said...

It was a fascinating read and gorgeous images.

mon@rch said...

Those frost photos are wonderful! . . . drip drip drip . . . sounds like a great time of the year!

Karyn said...

Love your poetic discriptions...almost as much as those gorgeous photos!

I really enjoyed this D post. Thanks

Tumblewords: said...

Glorious photos! And a sweet story! There's nothing better than maple syrup - thanks for sharing the particulars of the process.

Nature Nut said...

The first picture of the frosted maple leaf is my favorite. Lovely!

D Herrod said...

Creative

Navin Dutta said...

Pentastic !!! and Fascinating :)

Becky said...

Beautiful words and gorgeous photos. What an amazing process and how richly blessed we are to know of it.

I'm visiting for abc Wed. Love your natureful blog.

splummer said...

Hi!
Wonderful "D"! Thanks for the info about Dripping syrup. I didn't know about the pressure! Have a great day!!

Sherrie

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

There's nothing quite like real maple syrup! Thanks for the lovely photos and the description of the process by which the trees disperse their sweetness.

scienceguy288 said...

Fresh maple syrup is amazing! And it does already feel like spring, if only for a moment.

Life with Kaishon said...

You write about this so beautifully. I love your pretty pictures and your poetic words. Such a great post. Thank you!

spacedlaw said...

Yum, what a great post. I love maples: They are such beautiful trees and they give us this wonderful syrup too!
Great D.

twobarkingdogs said...

What an informative and entertaining posting, thanks! And if I try hard enough, I can smell the maple syrup!