The Sweet Secret of Sun and Frost

March 4, 2013 by Ellen Stimson in Springtime, Sugaring

May in Vermont is a long happy series of soft days with gentle greens covering the mountains and wildflowers lighting up the whole world. The plentiful Vermont lilacs make whole villages smell sweet. But March…when so much of the rest of the country is tasting spring, well, March is a whole nother story up here.

Spring is a time when we all step gracefully to the cheery music of photosynthesis. Only in Vermont when the world is still snowy and a warm weekend begins the great melt that comes just ahead of the great mud only to be followed by a blowsy snowstorm on Monday, well in Vermont, we wait.

Spring doesn’t arrive for good until Mother’s Day around these parts. I am loyal to Vermont but the truth is sometime in late March or early April we begin our annual lover’s quarrel. I remember the daffodils and tulips in St Louis, the pear trees lighting up the sidewalks with their petals… and feel sorry for myself when I look up at all these woebegone trees of ours.

But for now we have gobs of gorgeous sun and frost. This is the secret to Vermont in March.  It’s still snowing but it’s of the warm sun drenched variety. The sap is running fast and the lights are on in all the sugarhouses deep into the night. Pretty soon the smell of sugary syrup will waft through the villages just like the woodsmoke is now. Everybody is sticky just at the moment. If you shake hands with your neighbor at the Post Office or the guy who plows your road, you are as likely as not to come away with sticky hands. No mater how much everyone washes and scrubs the sap tends to linger. And maybe that is the secret to community up here. We are all stuck together by the sweet syrup and long winters. Come May we are practically dancing with one another at the country store. We have made it through another one. We will feel smug and strong, smart and lucky. For most of the year we live in one of the prettiest places on the planet and if March and April are the price we pay then we know that pretty soon it will seem like a bargain again.


  • Lynn Silence

    Honey, don’t be nostalgic about St. Louis spring yet. This past week, all it has done is snow and rain a little–more like sleet. It isn’t accumulating and the streets have stayed clear for the most part, but it hasn’t beenanything approaching pretty. My jonquils grew very tall during the typical February thaw, but now they’re looking pretty terminal. The only thing approaching spring-like are the crocus.

  • mtngirl

    I smelled dirt today. It really is just around the corner. Hang on!

  • carolineinvt

    There’s a big storm headed our eway tomorrow. BUT the hyacinths are peeking up through the snow. It is a good sign

  • molls

    You need a cocktail Mrs P. Try a milky based bourbon concoction…it’s hearty and nurturing feeling kind of like egg nog only less rich. You can add cinnamin or anise and drink it warm or cold
    The drinkers are happier up here in the winter…well except for the really depressed ones who can’t stay sober. Not them I guess

  • beesknees

    We have crocuses down here in the Berkshires. I think it is here . I’m sure there will be a few more storms but they won’t last. Spring will be here before you knwo it

  • jessie

    I HATE March. Hate hate hat. April is not so good either. It is brown and dreary. I used to love April. We would plant flowers for Easter in KC. Can you imagine planting flowers up here? They’d last a day

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