The sap is running down the lines. It’s being collected for transformation into that decadently sweet and syrupy pancake enhancer. You know what I mean that sticky, viscous, golden brown, liquid sugar that lazily covers everything in its path. Once it undergoes its alchemy in the wood-fired evaporator it becomes a new world ambrosia, a nectar like no other.
We’re on a run of our own along TC 102 and then over the 311 to Sugar Moon Farm. There’s still plenty of snow in the woods and fields at Sugar Moon. The higher altitude isn’t a match for the power of the sun though. The snow is soft underfoot. It’s on its final retreat – life span to be measured in days not weeks.
It’s crowded. There are lots of people here for a meal at the log cabin restaurant, a walk in the woods, or, like us, a quick treat of something special. It’s a smackeral of sweet you never forget.
I remember my first sugar bush outing in grade four. There was a symphony of drips in the galvanized tin buckets and networks of spiralling plastic tubing. Most memorable though was the secret recipe – syrup and snow, a kind of cool toffee. Delicious, fun and easy to make. Press your popsicle stick down on the line of syrup lying on top of the snow, twirl, pop into your mouth and revel in the gooey, sticky, sugary taste explosion. Repeat.
It’s just as fun at Sugar Moon as it was on the outskirts of Toronto way back when. Those stands of trees are probably all 905ed under now. Nellie and Noah have some ooey, gooey, gluey messes on mittens and coats and syrupy grins on their faces.
This March is spectacular. We’ve already had 11 sunny and clear, or mostly sunny and partly cloudy days. Temperatures have been consistently above average. On some days they’ve been creeping into the almost tropical zone. Well tropical for Halifax in March.
My memory for weather from one season to the next is atrocious. I asked Mé if she remembered last spring. “Remember,” she replied. “Yes, I remember. I couldn’t get out of the house because of the dreary weather. I was pregnant, not feeling well and looking for ways to entertain the two small ones. Outside play was not an option. This is the kind of weather that would have been great last spring.”
Sure enough, the Weather Underground has all the weather readings going back for years. Last March was particularly nasty – four days of sunshine up to this same point in the month and much colder temps as compared with this year. Going back several years the record tells a consistent story. March is not a sunny month in Nova Scotia. This is surely a March to remember.
Outdoor play is so much less laborious now with the warmer days and sunny skies. It’s not that we hibernate in the winter, it’s just that spring brings such a welcome release from the multiple layers of clothing and the damp, chill-to-the-bone cold. It’s easier to get everyone prepared and through the door. Once outside, the self-led play is generally of a much longer duration.
At 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 our two older ones are pretty good at amusing themselves. Older brother Noah is mostly helpful with Nellie including her in the games he invents and giving her a helping hand as required. We’ve turned one of the flower beds at the front of the house over to them as a digging pit, car play place, etc. Then there is hockey, baseball, soccer, lacrosse and the list goes on. They have a great time playing by their own rules.
And then there’s our playground explorations. We’re moving into high gear. In the last week we’ve had running, swinging, sliding, climbing expeditions at five different playgrounds. The kids and I love getting out to test drive equipment all over the city. It’s become a seasonal hobby that I blog about at PlayGround Chronicles.
We’re not the only ones to be enthused by this rosy weather. The birds are singing its praises. There’s more birdsong in the morning. Their impromptu concertos make me think back to last summer when Noah-David told me in a matter of fact tone that the birds weren’t singing for us but for themselves. Bulbs charmed by the warming sun are poking through their green shoots. Russell Lake is free of ice and our nesting ospreys are sure to return soon to fish and raise another brood.
The kids are raring to get outside as much as possible. We’ve got at least four activities to choose from today when we talk about what we’ll do – feeding the ducks at Shubenacadie Park, strolling at Point Pleasant, walking the beach and throwing rocks at Rainbow Haven, or rocketing and rollicking at the space shuttle playground. Of course we could put together a killer combo pack that will meet with everyone’s approval. And that’s all part of the fine weather too – more options for taking the fun outdoors.
This year approaching spring we experienced a wonderful milestone. Just a couple of days ago, Lila-Jeanne – now four months – let loose with her first cavalcade of laughter. Her peals of happiness chased away any clouds on the horizon and warmed us all up. Bring on the laughter and lots more sunshine.