For a while there in April it felt like we were on the verge of May. Then, March-like conditions swept in and we were on the verge of tears. It doesn’t seem fair, having one’s chain yanked like that, but that’s the way it is around here.
“… You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March…”
~From “Two Tramps at Mud Time” by Robert Frost
Of course, if you’re anything like me, you just sort of black out in mid-April and, before you know it, it really is the middle of May and swallows are chasing down mayflies among snowflakes. Continue reading
Phrenology is the study of bumps on a person’s skull to determine certain aspects of the individual’s personality and character.
Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life.
The end of sugaring tends to come at about the same time amphibians thaw out and get active, so some sugar-makers call their final batches of syrup “frog water.” Appropriately, a small chorus of wood frogs was sounding off in the puddles as the fire was lit for an April Fools’ Day boil at Bobo’s last Friday afternoon.
Categories: Humor, Maple Syrup, nature, Rural Life, Vermont
Tags: Bobo's Mountain Sugar, fish in a barrel pond, Humor, maple syrup, nature, quill gordon, Rural Life, spring, Vermont
The first shave of the season can be a traumatic event. Removing a full winter’s luxurious growth is no easy task, but sometimes my good friend Eugene‘s body hair grows through the weave of his long-johns and it’s the only way to get them off. Don’t worry, he’s fine; most of the trauma is suffered by those who have to hold him down.
Taking off the winter beard used to be a fine April Fool’s Day joke but I don’t always make it to town for anyone to see. At home, it just seems to scare the cats (and me, every time I walk by a mirror for the first day or two) but it’s become a rite of spring around here and it’s best not to mess with tradition.
I am naturally intrigued by new possibilities in drastic hair removal. Men have used clam shells, Bowie knives and multi-bladed monstrosities over the years to scrape their faces clean but the other night I came across a show featuring two handsome young men who struck me as the type to be completely hairless below the neckline. Admiring themselves in a mirror, they gave grooming tips that a man like me could certainly use.
It Took Forever and Hurt Like Hell
I couldn’t hear everything they said about the importance of tweezing but I’d like to watch that show again because it might be possible they were talking about their eyebrows.
Fish in a Barrel Pond, April Fool’s Day, 2016
Duck Ice (n): Ice that will hold a duck, but not much more.
While caretaking on an island on Lake Champlain, I heard stories about the caretaker on another island who strapped giant plywood duck feet to his shoes in order to walk on thin ice, just for fun. He was also known for “jumping chunks” to shore when his boat became mired in the pack ice each spring and he liked to drive back and forth on his ATV, stopping by with predictions of how much longer it would be “safe” to make a run to shore.
“You’ve got another six hours, easy,” he once told me, two days after I’d nearly scared myself to death making one last trip for supplies.
A Long Walk
Those, of course, are geese, not ducks, making their way across the last of the ice on Fish in a Barrel Pond. Their wide feet distribute their weight somewhat, but even they run into problems from time to time. Continue reading
Categories: nature, Rural Life, Vermont
Tags: fish in a barrel pond, ice, ice out, nature, outdoors, quill gordon, Rural Life, spring, Vermont
Because the photo in the header of this post is severely cropped, the buffet table in Bobo’s sugarhouse can not be seen. The al fresco dining was featured two weeks ago in “Pickles, Cough Drops and a Bottle of Scotch” but they’ve been boiling like mad over there ever since and it should go without saying that the buffet table is stocked with an array of items that can be eaten by hand, on the fly. Pretty much everything available is made even more delicious by a drizzling (or dunking) of warm syrup but one wonders sometimes what else could be done with all that amber, sugary goodness.
New York City found out this week when Bobo’s Mountain Sugar was featured in the menu of the Maple Run, a dinner at the James Beard House, on West 12th Street. Not only do I expect to find Maple-Brined Pork Loin with Grits, Carrots, Almonds, and Maple–Mustard Jus followed by Waffle Baba with Maple–Bourbon Syrup, Vanilla–Bourbon Ice Cream, Brown Butter, and Maple Meringue served up on the old wire spool next year, I expect to see Hot Dogs Boiled in a Sap Pan and Virginia Peach Moonshine with Vermont Maple Cocktails on the menus of fine restaurants everywhere. Continue reading
(This video is hand-held and rudimentary, just like me. It includes free cheesy ambient music, also just like me.)
April 11 was the kind of day we deserve around here after the winter we just went through. Waiting for the ice to go off Fish in a Barrel Pond, I spent it stoking the fire at Bobo’s and attempting some video. The result:
It may sound cruel to stand by and watch something die, but this is winter we’re talking about and there’s nothing you can do to help it along. The thing is — and this also applies to things other than winter — you don’t want to go poking at it or looking too close too soon. Under the influence of syrup, my last post did just that and winter delivered a reflexive kick to the cranium, knocking spring right out of my mind and causing me to put down the shears, deciding the beard can stay for while — at least until I get tired of it or burn it off feeding the arch at Bobo’s. One or the other; I can’t decide.
Winter and spring duke it out as they do every year and, as ugly as things get, they both end up just looking silly. Meanwhile, the rest of us wallow out through the mid-day slop and bounce home over frozen ruts at night, feeling like the punchline in some kind of big cosmic joke. Continue reading
Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Fly Fishing, Humor, Vermont
Tags: April Fools, fish in a barrel pond, fishing, Fly Fishing, Humor, maple syrup, nature, quill gordon, spring, Vermont
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.”
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.
Categories: Maple Syrup, Rural Life, Vermont
Tags: Bobo's Mountain Sugar, food, maple syrup, mud season, nature, quill gordon, Rural Life, shack nasties, spring, Vermont, winter
Fish in a Barrel Pond, April 20, 2014
An entire winter’s worth of snow slowly condensed into a thick layer of ice, sitting on lake ice that formed in December. With less than a week before Opening Day, there was nothing to be done about the ice but hope it would go out in time. Meanwhile, there were camps to prepare, repair, and otherwise make ready for the upcoming season.
Fish in a Barrel Pond, April 21, 2014
Woodland creatures were evicted, floors were swept, and beds were made, as if there were no ice at all (other than in the usual low spots in water lines) and, while anxious anglers left messages asking about the lake, cussing and banging gave way to sighs of relief at the sound of trickling faucets. Continue reading
Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Fly Fishing, nature, Vermont
Tags: fish in a barrel pond, fishing, Fly Fishing, ice out, Loons, nature, opening day, quill gordon, spring, Vermont
Categories: nature, Vermont
Tags: geese, ice, lake, merganser, nature, otter, photography, quill gordon, Rural Life, spring, Vermont