Posts Tagged With: mud season

Here Comes Sugar Bob!

Here Comes Sugar Bob!

Here Comes Sugar Bob!

And there goes Sugar Bob, heading home for a long boil.

Heading Home for a Long Boil

Heading Home for a Long Boil

Sugar Bob makes maple syrup, gathering sap from stands he’s tapped all over the freakin’ place. You can hear his rig coming from a long way off, especially when he’s motoring through the mud with a load on. That sap is headed for a tank above the cabana, to be boiled down into syrup as only Sugar Bob can make it. I wouldn’t pour it on my pancakes, but Sugar Bob’s Finest Kind Smoked Maple Syrup is one of the greatest Secret Ingredients yet devised by Man.

Sugar makers don’t get to see each other much at times like this so Sugar Bob passed along his respects to the good folks at Bobo’s Mountain Sugar and I was happy to carry his message to the other side of the valley this afternoon. Continue reading

Categories: Maple Syrup, nature, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mud Season Started Today

There is always some uncertainty, once the leaves are off the trees, as to when, exactly, winter begins. Snow flies and cold wind blows but it’s not so bad crossing the dooryard or heading out for chores until, one day, a cuss word comes out and, gosh darn it, you just know it’s winter.

Even spring comes in fits and starts and the long-johns stay on until that fickle season regains our trust and we finally take them off (or cut them off when, as often happens with my good friend Eugene, our body hair grows through the weave over the course of the cold months). We don’t put them away for the season just yet, though; experience has taught us that they may be needed again before Memorial Day.

With Mud Season, however, there is no doubt and, in this neck of the woods, Mud Season started today.

Some people don’t believe in Mud Season, having never seen it for themselves. They wonder out loud how bad it could be and believe they could handle it, if they had to, but they don’t, and they can smile their smug smiles unchallenged.

Some believe it is real but, like trading blows with a kangaroo, aren’t sure they’d be up for it themselves and decide watching from a safe distance is probably the best option.

Some people see it for the first time and can’t believe it’s possible. Surely something can be done, if only we thought outside the box, but there is no box think outside of. The bottom has been dropping out for as long as anyone can remember, no matter what anyone has done, and Mud Season is a fact of life in rural Vermont.

If a spot gets particularly bad, a mention to the road crew will at least get some attention, but storming into the Town Office and declaring it is impossible to get around will gain you no good will, especially when your very presence disproves your point.

This morning at 10:00, when I headed out on an errand, our road was just fine. A few wet spots, maybe, but overall still frozen with a good sprinkling of sand. By noon it was a different story and the plot thickened as the day progressed.

Mud Season  is real and complaining will get you nowhere. It won’t even make you feel better. A good slog through Mud Season will send some people packing while others might hang on for another season or two, whining all the way. Everyone else will smarten up and adjust their lives, gaining a little something in the process as they learn to accept yet another thing they cannot change.

The first day of Mud Season, 2016, in slide-show form:

 

 

Categories: nature, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Made in Vermont Hybrid Vehicle

A Hybrid of What, We Don't Know, But It's Got a Load On.

A Hybrid of What, We Don’t Know, But It’s Got a Load On.

Part Chevy, part who knows what, that’s a custom rig right there, sitting on my ice-coated driveway toward the end of a winter that made me wonder why I bothered with marker stakes. There may well be pieces of more than two vehicles involved, pieced together with ingenuity, baling wire and spot welds, and when it’s not wearing a plow on its nose it’s perfect for hauling and spreading sand (or, in this case, 1/4″ chipped stone). It has also been spotted in the village, in front of the pre-school, dropping off kiddos.

The weather has been a bit of a hybrid, itself, these last few weeks. Booger-freezing cold one day, rainy and almost warm the next, there have been pieces of at least two seasons involved and their bastard child is ice.

Coated

Coated

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Categories: Humor, Maple Syrup, nature, Rural Life, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Bit of a Jam, Part II

When winter and spring duke it out they both end up looking silly, the dooryard fills with slush and streams jump their banks. Freezing rain gave way yesterday to sleet and ice pellets before turning to snow last night, which is when the lightning and thunder began. Another band of rain moved through with a shot of warm air and this morning felt positively balmy.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, February 25, 2016

Fish in a Barrel Pond, February 25, 2016

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Categories: Rural Life, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Emerges, Snarling

The curmudgeonly demeanor so essential to my charm nearly veered into the ditch of sociopathic behavior a few times this winter as the Shack Nasties made their annual bid for control. The Shack Nasties are terrible things, related to Cabin Fever but having nothing to do with the need to get outside. Cabin Fever is easily treated but the Shack Nasties are insidious and, once contracted, their cure consists mostly of endurance. Hundreds of blog posts and internet articles appeared this winter, with headlines like “Ten Quick Hacks to Beat the Winter Blahs” and I could almost relate, but my hacking was from working in the cold air and, on a good day, if I tried real hard, I could almost get myself worked up to “blah.”

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When folks who are used to a lot of snow say, “That’s a lot of snow,” you know it’s a lot of snow.

Ya think?

Ya think?

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Categories: Maple Syrup, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An Early Spring Ramble

The beginning of spring in these parts was marked by a storm that dumped more than a foot of new snow. Winter’s keen, cold edge might have been worn down but her message remained blunt. The temperature dropped, the sap ceased running and it seemed for a few days that ours was the grumpiest village in the world. It’s not often people admit out loud that they wish it was mud season already.

Their wishes have been granted and, while it may be too soon to tell for sure, this year’s mud looks to be at least average.

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Mud season takes some by surprise, especially those who recently moved here from other places looking for the “rural chic” of catalogs and magazines. If a full Vermont winter didn’t do them in they must be sorely disappointed when March rolls around and tosses chic in a ditch, leaving them with only the rural. If there were a way to keep dirt roads dry in the spring I’m sure a Vermonter would have figured it out by now, but mud season is such a part of Vermont’s culture that maybe someone’s just keeping it a secret, so as to not spoil the fun. Continue reading

Categories: nature, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

A Big Old Dose of Spring

At Town Meeting, back on the 6th, I was told Mud Season would begin on the 7th.

It did.

A protracted spell of unseasonable warmth made it even deeper and more tenacious than usual and, two and a half weeks later, it’s still not over. Entire dump truck loads of stone continue to disappear in the slop.

While several feet of saturated road bed thawed in the warm spring sun this week, the ice on the lake remained thick, but not to be trusted.

Continue reading

Categories: Humor, nature, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Answering Some Mail

(At the top of this page is a tab that reads “Contact Quill” which will bring up a form you can use to send old Quill an email. A few readers have actually used it, and I’d like to share with you some of the notes I have received.)

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Dear Quill,

I subscribed to your blog, but this is not at all what I had in mind and now I regret my decision. How do I make the email notifications stop?

Signed, Disgruntled in Denver

Dear Disgruntled,

I am sorry to hear you are no longer gruntled, but how do you think I feel, having to look at it every darn day? Take a look at the bottom of your email notification; there should be a link that says “Unsubscribe”. Click it and follow the directions, and you will never again be notified that impotant pieces like “Careful With That Axe, Eugene“, “A Craft Project With My Friend, Eugene“, or “Eugene and the Dangers of Shatter Proof Glass” have been foisted upon an unsuspecting readership proudly published. ~QG 

Otter, Fish in a Barrel Pond 3/10/12

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Dear Quill,

L.L. Bean’s very special Spring Fishing Expo and 100th Anniversary Celebration is this weekend. We’ll give you ten thousand dollars to stay away.

Signed, Freeport Chamber of Commerce

Dear Freeport Chamber of Commerce,

Your offer is tempting but, as much as I wanted to be there for what is sure to be a great weekend (including fly tying demonstrations by Don Bastian, a man with many stories that somehow involve him in his underwear, by the way), I must send my regrets for free. You see, I will be staying away for reasons of love.

My love of anglers.

I try to pretend I am an angler, just like everybody else, but I am not. I am an angler who, when others act on the urge to get away from it all, greets them when they arrive. I clean up after them when they leave, and then, on Sunday afternoon, I try to catch fish in a lake that has been whipped to a froth by them since Friday evening. I also take their reservations, which for the past month have been carefully regulated for fairness (only x number of nights per month, etc.). Starting March 16th, however, those rules are relaxed and anything goes. Someone must be here when they call, and that someone is I.

Freeport is safe this year, as I take one for the team, so everyone who can make it should attend. And be sure to say “Hi” to Don — he’s really starting to get the hang of tying those flies! ~QG Continue reading

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Mud Season 2012, Two Days In

(A certain angler in Georgia asked yesterday, “How’s the mud crop look this year?”

Ha ha.)

At Town Meeting on Tuesday, our village’s road foreman told me “mud season starts tomorrow,” which was almost amusing, considering the fact that, as I walked to town that morning, it was still just 10 degrees outside.

Tomorrow then is yesterday now, and he was right. Mud season has begun, and it looks like it’s going to be a good one.

One thing I have learned at Town Meeting over the years is that, if one is requesting funds, one should not place a series of question marks where a dollar sign and some numbers should be. I absofreakinglutely guarantee someone will stand up, waving their town report in the air, and shout, “I ain’t votin’ to put no tax dollars to no damn question marks!” It’s all over when that happens.

That might work in the big city, but you’ll get called on it every time at Town Meeting. It also helps if the wording of your request reflects what you describe in your supporting documents. We’re kind of picky that way, wanting to know just what we’re getting into.

We used printed paper ballots for a school district consolidation question, as well as for our Presidential primary votes. Somewhere is a stack of ballots that have been set aside, to be counted later, because they were defaced on Tuesday, vandalized by citizens who just couldn’t follow instructions. I am sure the Secretary of State has dealt with these things before, but his staff must slowly shake their heads after every election as they go through these ballots. I don’t know how many there are, but it’s a pretty sure thing that more than a few of my neighbors saw the section of the ballot marked “DO NOT WRITE IN THIS SPACE” and took the time to write “I WRITE WHERE I PLEASE!”.

Another Town Meeting tip: when you have had your say and the Moderator replies, “That is an opinion, not a motion,” don’t stand there like a deer in the headlights! Look the Moderator square in the eye, say “Damn right it is!” and sit down. That’s what I do, anyway.

One of the final items of the day on Tuesday was our town’s highway budget. Even if our road foreman hadn’t already warned of the impending mud, his proposed budget would have been changed when the villagers got a hold of it. We changed it, alright. We motioned, seconded, and approved a little raise for our road crew because they do a heck of a job with what they have to deal with. Without them, how else would our mail get through?

Categories: Humor, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quill Gordon Meets an Important Man

If you are anything at all like me, when the forecast calls for high temperatures in the 70s, you jump on the tractor and go dig snow.

You know, just to help things along a little bit. We’re going to be fishing again in 18 days.

Continue reading

Categories: Humor, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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