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ICE OUT

Tina Hartell

The sap hasn’t begun to flow in earnest here on Bobo’s Mountain. We’ve had some good afternoons where, for a few hours, the sap will come down in steadily and slowly, but it seems to shut down as soon as the sun angles toward the horizon. The 1900-gallon bulk tank is filling a few hundred gallons at a time (in contrast, when the sap is pouring, it fills twice in day). So, despite the date, Daylight Saving(s), the return of the robins and mourning doves, spring hasn’t arrived. This feels especially true when one sees the town tractor heaping and spreading the snowbanks along our road in preparation for the 9-20” of snow and sleet coming today and tomorrow.

This time last year we had already made 150 gallons of syrup. And anxious thoughts of “will we make as much as last year?” and “when will we have the first boil” run alongside the eager late spring/early summer anticipation of asparagus poking through the garden bed and beach vacations. Despite the winter weariness, there’s a lot to be done before we can relax into May. Stay present my friends.

Vermonters have always had tried-and-true methods for dealing with the anticipation of spring. One such is ice out: betting on the time and day when the ice is out of the local pond. Probably the most famous one is Joe’s Pond Ice Out up in Danville and Cabot https://www.joespondvermont.com/iceout.php but even locally we have less-official systems for guessing ice out that usually involve standing around in the local markets and drinking coffee.

All of us on Bobo’s Mountain are interested in tracking the date of ice out too although not in our frog pond, in our bulk tank. Because of last week’s polar vortex, we have a 400-gallon sap ice cube floating in it. It is doing a swell job keeping the sap underneath it nice and cold but is taking up quite a bit of precious room. And since we moved the tank undercover on the north side of the sugarhouse, it isn’t receiving a whole lot of warm afternoon sun. So who knows when ice out will be but perhaps you could visit with a beverage of your choice and an ice pick.