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Sunday, March 15, 2015

March is being typical again - we've had snow all day.  Early this morning I measured 2.5 inches, and we've had another two inches or so since then - and it's still snowing.  I took a picture this noon when I thought it was beginning to let up, but that hasn't happened.  The temperature has dropped a few degrees (22 degrees down from 31) and the wind is gusting and swirling so I can't really tell what direction it's coming from.  My weather station indicates NNE and E, but then switches to SE, so I'll just call it "changeable."

You may remember that around February 22 or 23, Fred took a picture of a couple of barrels at Jamie and Marie's house, sitting a little way from their driveway in the snow (top picture.) They have remained about the same until this week when we had a few days of pretty nice warm weather.  Fred took another  picture yesterday, just to show how the sun and wind has diminished the snow pack.  Same barrels, way less snow.  Of course, today we are building the snow pack again, but even so, every little bit of melting helps.

I was surprised that on Front Porch Forum yesterday there were messages from two different sugar makers, one in Cabot and one in Hardwick, stating they had "more sap than we can process," and offering to sell their over-supply to anyone who could use it.  It seemed to me we haven't had enough warm days to have had much of a sap run, but apparently the trees are responding anyway, coming to life in spite of the weather.  Or because of it, if the sugar woods is in a protected spot.  Just because we're still having cold, snowy, miserable weather at Joe's Pond and on the north facing hills doesn't mean it's not better in other sections of the region.  

I've been seeing more about "designer" beers lately, and some are using maple syrup to add special flavor.  I remember my family talking about "sap beer" years ago - I doubt they made any, if it had alcohol in it my Grandfather Bolton would probably not have allowed it.  However, I'm sure some of our neighbors probably did, and today it is being brought back.  Like they say, "What goes around comes around."  So, knowing how there is a wealth of information, some reliable, some not so much, on the web, I did some searching and found this site about sap beer that seemed to be pretty realistic.  In addition, I began thinking about "birch beer," and sure enough, I found lots of information on that, too, including an old birch beer recipe.

Part of what started me thinking about these old time, now exotic beers was when Henretta Splain came to pick up Ice-Out tickets one day last week.  We were talking about "Spirits of Vermont," the wine tasting fund raiser event coming up in July for the benefit of Pope Library, and Henretta was telling us about some of the unusual beverage makers they will have there this year.  We also talked about Vermont Switchel Company, which I'm sure I've mentioned here before since they are based in Cabot. Switchel was commonplace on farms in Vermont every summer not too many years ago.  I remember my folks talking about it, and I think they made it sometimes, but I never tasted it.  My father liked to keep root beer in our cold spring during haying season.  My mother made it using Hire's extract, but I wasn't allowed to taste it. 

Yesterday was "Pi Day" - I expect most of you knew that - 3-14-15, corresponding to pi, 3.1415 and on to infinity.  It won't happen again for 100 years.  I hope you celebrated in some way.  Today is the Ides of March, and that comes around every year - plus there are ides in other months, if you use the old Roman calendar.  However, what makes the Ides of March different is that Caesar was assassinated on that day, thus the warning, "Beware the Ides of March."  I hope it was a relatively uneventful day for all of you.

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