Sunday, February 27, 2011
I had to be up early this morning and I woke to world blanketed with snow. It's been a long, cold, snowy winter this year and another round of the white stuff wasn't exactly something to cheer about. Until I walked outside in the early morning hush and realized it was sugar snow!
Sugar snow may appear to be just like regular snow to the untrained eye but any one who's ever spent any time in sugar bush will tell you that sugar snow is special. It occurs in late winter when the temperatures hover around freezing which is the ideal sap collection weather as well. Sap needs temperatures below freezing at night but slightly above in the day in order to run. Sugar snow requires similar conditions- too cold and it's just regular snow; too warm and it's sloppy and slushy and heavy with moisture. Sugar snow is large fluffy flakes that drift down like feathers and land ever so gently on anything solid. Clumps of snow clinging to branches tipped with buds makes my heart sing; the slightest movement or breeze will send it cascading down, resembling cherry blossoms in spring.
Living in a big city I sometimes miss the cues and natural rhythms of the seasons. With all the heated indoor spaces and easy transportation right at my door, winter can be one long blur of running from one shelter to another, and snow is something I see through a window. Sugar snow reminds me that spring is at long last on it's way, and things are changing even when I can't see them yet. Forget the robins and the crocuses; sugar snow is my first sign of spring! And even in the city you'll know it's sugar snow when you see the little old ladies out sweeping their sidewalks- no need to shovel this stuff!
Because it's so light and airy, sugar snow acts as insulation where ever it lands and a good sugar snow late in the season can extend the sap run. It also makes an excellent surface to pour molten maple sugar on to make maple taffy.
Best of all it's a good indicator that the sap is running hard and fast right now. Not Far From started tapping last week and with near perfect temps this week, we should have plenty of sap for our Sugaring Off party in Dufferin Grove Park on March 13! So grab your spiels and buckets- it's time to make syrup!