Sunday, March 24, 2013

Crash-dents, maple syrup, lunch and shopping

Backing into your child's brand new car is NOT an auspicious way to begin an outing.  All winter, I have successfully avoided the snow bank which our plow-man has been building in the turn around area of the driveway.  Today, when I failed to remember that my daughter parked between the garage and the snow bank, I backed into her car. Loudly.  @#$%#!! 

As she graciously pointed out later, it was a) good that I still had the parking brake on because that meant I was going slow, b) good that no one was hurt (human or canine was her concern) and c) good that everybody has insurance. Nevertheless, it was NOT a good thing.

Boy, did I hate scaring her so badly and feeling so stupid. I don't know that I ever felt as bad when I scared or disappointed my parents!  If  you want to feel guilty, or awful, just disappoint/hurt a child.
Kudos to her for not saying anything "unretractable" and for calming down a lot faster than I did..  Congratulations to me for not having a stroke in the face of her frantic, frustrated expression.

We pressed on.  It was Maple Syrup weekend in New Hampshire.  She sported  her fresh off the needles tam and we ventured to WillowCreek Sugar House in East Kingston.
 The Sugarbush/Maple Syrup growers association has brand loyalty!
 This farm was proud of it's new Patrick Phaneuf Evaporateur:  a wood fed device for boiling down the sap into syrup. (A nearby distributor in NY state lists some interesting facts here.) It takes at least 40 gallons of tree sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. (And the tree has to be 40 years old before it produces sap... but they can produce for 250 years once they get started.
 (We got to have syrup "shots"... they don't taste anything like Mrs. Butterworth's... trust me.)

 Behind the stove compartment were several linked chambers for boiling the syrup (at approximately 219 degrees:  hotter and it caramelizes, cooler and it takes forever!)
 Mr. Rice is also a chef.  I liked his sweat shirt which asked:  Got sap?
 He has an honor system for selling honey, eggs and syrup.  A man WITHOUT honor was nabbed by the neighboring Police Chief within minutes.  I hope Mr. Rice doesn't become overly cynical!
 Most of the maples have taps and tubes leading to the sugar house.  Buckets are old fashioned!  Farmers can also hook up vacuum systems to the tubes to get more sap from the trees faster.  Micro climates matter.  Nights that are too warm (above freezing) and days that are too cold (below freezing) shut down the process.  2013 has been a better year than 2012.
 He raises chickens and sells fresh egs.
I'm thinking about an abstract painting based on the wood shed and tree "skeletons."
 It takes LOTS of wood to boil thousands of gallons of sap. But here, wood is way less expensive than oil.  The FDA assures processing standards and works with the EPA to encourage farmers to purchase "reverse osmosis" systems which remove large amounts of water PRIOR to boiling the sap... less wood/oil used, less smoke.

This farm has won prizes for its honey.
 We went to a second farm even closer to home.  It was a couple of iterations more "advanced" (or at least its evaporator was a lot bigger) than the one at WillowCreek.
 They have an enormous stable with lots of horses and an indoor ring (at right, below).  One of their children was won second place in the international Reining Horse competition.  (I have no idea what that means, but the mom was very proud!)  This family apparently enjoys mechanical means of transportation as well.  Real New England Outdoorsmen, I think.
 Pastoral!  From the satellite map, you'd think the farm was tiny, but this vantage point seems vast.

 Hay barn, and tractor shed between the farm house and the sugar house.
 The enormous oil-burning evaporator with open troughs of boiling syrup.  I can wholeheartedly recommend their Maple Mustard!
 Looking up at the ventilation system.
 Handprints and a horseshoe embedded at the entry to the stable.
Looking through the performance area.

 Hay storage, awards. banners and tack. I need to find out the difference between "reining" and dressage.
 After slogging through the mud at the two farms, we adjourned to Leah Mae's Breakfast and Lunch. 
It was delicious as always (I had camomile tea to settle my post-crash jitters) and we browsed the estate and re-sale treasures.
 I don't know where one buys transparent glass painted Easter Eggs, but I think I might like an Easter Egg "tree."
 My turkey/apple/havarti/cornbread-stuffing panini and bread & butter pickle.
 A brooch I could not resist.  Looks like a knitted crocodile, to me!!
A close up view of my daughter's hat. Can you believe that with all that patterning, there are only two balls of yarn used? 
 And this picture is one of three skeins of stash yarn (mohair and acrylic) that I'm thinking would make a nice Spring/summer wrap... IF I can find the "right" pattern.  some sort of lace, but not to complex, because mohair is nearly impossible to frog if you make a mistake. (Suggestions welcome).
 Bottom line:  ALWAYS look before backing up.  Enjoy the seasons.  Forgive others AND yourself quickly.

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