Spring has Sprung…finally, Winner Announcements and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Contests, and Author Guest Blogs

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Well, I am almost afraid to say it….maybe Spring has finally arrived here in the DC Metro area. Shhhhhh! Not too loud.  I hate to be superstitious but  lately it seems like the sleet, or snow is just hovering at the edges threatening to make a reappearance and coat everything in white instead of cherry blossoms.  So I am going to tiptoe around the fact that I got out in the yard for the first time to start my garden cleanup and to check out if any brave little sprouts had made it above ground.  The irises have poked out, so have the autumn sedum…plucky souls that they are.  The maple trees are in flower and the squirrels are taking full advantage by littering the yard with all the flowers and twigs they have snipped off to get at the maple sap.  Oh that maple sap….the first run is so sweet, like a cold drink of water with a hint of sugar……that if boiled down becomes that golden wonder maple syrup.maple trees tapped

At this time of year (ok earlier in March but not this year), I used to give maple sugaring demonstrations to the public.  I would be boiling gallons of sap that I started to collect in January and stored until March from trees along the stream banks where the old mature red and sugar maples stood.  I would let the kids watch me tap a tree and, if lucky, watch the maple syrup evaporatorsap start to run out the hole immediately to their awe and wonder.  Then over to the evaporator and the wood fire that constantly burned cooking away the water and reducing the sap to syrup.  It’s quite a laborous process which is one of the reasons that the price for maple syrup runs so high.  I would tap red and silver maples native to Maryland, sugar maples that had been planted for their color and even boxelders that make a strong hearty syrup, each species of tree giving the syrup its own unique taste.  I would even order some Alaska Birch syrup to give everyone a taste of that regionally strong and robust syrup, my that’s an  acquired taste.

In New England they don’t start this process until April because of their winters and this year Maryland is right along with them due to our unusually harsh and lingering  winter.  How I loved introducing people who have grown up on Log Cabin or Mrs. Butterworth’s to the real thing!  That never gets old.  I love the natural history and the cultural history to making maple syrup.  It keeps me in touch with the past, it makes me appreciate the changing of the seasons and the bounty of nature.  And what it can do to a stack of blueberry pancakes is out of thismaply syrup world….

So yeah….Spring is here.  The maple trees in flower and the squirrels gnawing the heck out of them for the sweet sap tells me so.  And now I feel the need to go make some flapjacks.  With butter.  And real maple syrup of course!

Winner Announcements! The winner of Katey Hawthorne’s Book Contest is Alishead1.  Congratulations to Alishead1.
Leah Karge is the winner of the When All the World Sleeps blog tour. Congratulations to Leah too! Thanks to everyone who left comments.  Your participation is always appreciated. The winners have been notified.

Oh, and happy 5th Anniversay to Less Than Three Press, congratulations to you too.

While I am making breakfast, here is the schedule for the week ahead:

  •  Monday, April 7:    The Calm Before by Neena Jayden
  • Tuesday, April 8:     The Forester II: Lost and Found by Blaine D. Arden
  • Wed, April 9:             Author Spotlight: Blaine D. Arden (and Book Giveaway)
  • Thurday, April 10:    In Distress by Katey Hawthorne
  • Friday, April 11:        Controlled Burn by Laura Harner
  •  ***************        Cold Comfort by Lee Brazil
  • Saturday, April 12:    Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano