The recent record-setting warm spell could not possibly last. It is March and this is Vermont, after all. Sap was still trickling down the hill as last evening’s boil ended at Bobo’s Mountain Sugar and, while the collection tank didn’t fill all the way, it had enough sap in it this morning to justify firing up the arch again.
Another justification for processing a not full tank is the fact that temperatures are predicted to drop to well below 0°F over the next few days. Anyone who has ever dealt with a thousand gallons of solidly frozen sap knows how that can slow down an operation. Everyone else can probably imagine.
As dependent on weather as sap runs are, boiling that sap into syrup can be affected, too. Barometric pressure has an effect on the boiling point of liquids and wind gusts to 50 mph have a strange way of preventing steam from leaving the building. Even with doors open.
It didn’t help that the outside air that did get in was cold and getting colder, and that it, too, turned to fog when it met the warm air rising from the arch.
The edge of a cold metal barrel is not really a comfortable seat but it will do. Lest readers get the impression I sit a lot, I don’t. Sometimes I stand and stare at the ceiling.
Mostly, my role in Bobo’s sugarhouse is stoking the fire and
drinking beer acting as a role model for children. Mostly, it’s stoking the fire.
The sap tank is empty, the arch is quiet and the plumbing is drained. There won’t be another run of sweet sap until this bitter cold blast has moved through, maybe by Monday they say. It was freaky foggy in the sugarhouse today, but not constantly. The fog came and went, as you will see below.
The four foggy photos above are part of a series, a series of 299 images which, when stitched together, form a time-lapse, boiling down two and half hours to thirty seconds. The big hairy guy even does a little dance.
I’m not really a syrup person, but in today’s society, it is comforting to know that there are still a few good things that can only be achieved through hard work, a touch of alchemy and half a break from the weather.