It has been a weird winter here in Southern Vermont, no doubt about it. Last year, when I arrived on campus, there were about two feet of snow on the ground. I wore huge down coats over my full-length wool sweaters with a scarf wrapped around my neck three times and my gigantic, wooly Morrocan hat on my head. I looked absurd, but I was cold.
This year, there are only the rare spots of snow. For me, this is concerning. The high today, March 7th, was 60 degrees (in March)!
These weather conditions could mean something weird for maple sugaring, too. A certain professor seems to think that spring has sprung, and the cold nighttime temperatures that are needed for the maple sap to keep running won’t be coming back.
Regardless, a bunch of students, Dickinson wonderman David Norman and I went out into the forest behind the Jennings music building and tapped some trees. The process involves drilling holes on the south-facing side of the tree, tapping in a metal “tap” or kind of sap drain into the tree, and hanging metal buckets with lids (to prevent rain, rodents, and tree detritus from getting in) onto the taps.
Unlike today, yesterday was pretty cold, and by the end of our tapping my fingers and toes were getting ready to fall off (David told us all to wear gloves, etc. I forgot to listen). Still, the forest is beautiful that time on day – even without the seasonally typical foot of snow. This weekend, we’ll boil the sap. And we’ll wait and see how long this project lasts.