After last night's storm the mercury fell, and this morning I found our sap buckets far from the tree and icicles running from the spiles. That meant that today was a good one for sugaring off the 5 gallons of sap we have collected so far from our backyard maple tree. We are a two bucket operation, so against the better judgment of those home economics majors who know full well what a heady brew of maple steam can do to wallpaper, we set the kettle to boil on the stove and set about making pancakes. This particular breakfast would not benefit from the sap reducing in the pot - there were many hours to go before the syrup could be decanted - but our now customary aebleskiver tasted great with what we had on hand.
Breakfast done at the leisurely hour of brunch, we bundled into the car and headed off to inspect the Great Falls of the Housatonic, nearing moderate flood stage after the heaving rains this weekend. It was as high and riotous as we've seen it this winter, and dramatic enough to lure a steady stream of Sunday drivers to the best show in town for those in the know. The children were thrilled to be so close to such a wild and violent cataract, and the urge to toss stones into the chasm was a siren call for Elias. We lingered above and below the plunging Falls, then drove over the single lane bridge at Falls Village and turned north toward the final skating excursion of the season at Tom Zetterstrom's quarry.
The first time I took the children skating here in January, they barely could stay upright. This time, the half a dozen skating outings we have had since showed through. Emily took to the ice - soft and punky in the spring sunshine but hard and slick in the shade of the quarry walls - and Elias made his way steadily out with hardly a falter on his double runner skates. It has been such a pleasure to watch them find their way on their skates from wobbling helplessness to something approximating ease and comfort on the ice and, in Emily's case, the ability to go where she wishes in short order without faltering.
it was an afternoon of adieu to winter, for we do not expect to be able to skate on the quarry or the little pond near the elementary school again before winter comes again to these rugged hills. Today we felt the last frozen breathe of the season but also breathed in the sweet vapors of spring from the kettle on the stove and the amber reduction within. By 7:30 it was a roiling boil, and time to pour off and seal in a pint mason jar. Another week or two of sap collecting remains, and then the crocus and the snowdrop with compete for our attention. Today, at least, was rounded with the glories of water in all its forms - steam, liquid and solid - and memories far more fixed and immutable.