This morning a dusting of sugar snow, the sun trying to peek through the fog. The past few days mild, signs of spring – early. Busy hanging buckets in the woods and cleaning the sugar house in preparation for boiling sap and making maple syrup. A rite of spring in Vermont, a graceful transition to the outdoors after winter’s cozy dormancy. At the mercy of fickle spring weather – the running of the sap dictating our day’s activity. Hard work but also magical. Buckets hung on trees fill drop by drop. Forty buckets full of sap will boil down to one of syrup. Early morning, checking buckets to see if the sap is running. Late afternoons, a delight to be out in the woods as the shadows of the maples lengthen, still leafless, tree juices flowing. And as the chilly darkness descends, the days harvest emptied into the holding tank, a retreat to the sugar house, wood-fire blazing, and sap bubbling, sweet steam all around. A time when the steam rising from the sugar house is an open invitation to neighbors to stop by for a chat and a shot of fresh, warm maple syrup. When the call to boil brings family and friends from near and far. A time to savor and share nature’s sweet bounty together – to welcome spring.