Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Maple Sugaring

Last week Pam shared lovely posts - here and here - after her visit to Kings Landing Historic Settlement.  As you will see in Pam's post there was a maple sugaring taking place.

I found it fascinating to see Pam's pictures.  It was so fascinating for three reasons, I have long been interested in this activity, because I love to eat maple syrup, and because the picture on my calendar this month is a depiction of a maple sugaring event.

You can see that the sap has been gathered in buckets from the trees, and is then boiled over the fire in a very big pot until the sap turns into syrup.  Then you can take the syrup and pour it in pretty shapes into a barrel of snow and that gives you maple candy to eat.

My fascination with maple sugaring started may years ago when I first read Little House in the Big Woods.

Fans of the book will recognise these images.  Below you can see Laura and Mary making their own candy in pans of snow.  They were not using maple syrup for this, but a mixture of boiled molasses and sugar.  This candy was to be kept for Christmas.

A little later in the book you read about how Laura's Grandpa has been preparing all winter to collect the maple syrup by making troughs and buckets to collect the syrup in.  There is a wonderful description of how the troughs are put into the tree and then left to allow the sap to pour into the buckets as the weather gets warmer and the sap starts to rise in the tree.

Pa then explains to Laura how the sap is boiled to make the syrup.  There had been great excitement in the story because there had been a sugar snow.  This meant that it had snowed and therefore the weather cooled down.  Because of this the sap would run for longer, meaning more maple syrup!

There was then a great dance to celebrate the sugar snow and the syrup and sugar that could be made.  At the end of the dance Laura and Mary got to make some maple candy of their own in pans of snow.

I don't know when I first read this book, but I remember the story so well all these years later.

So when I saw Pam's posts I found them so interesting and they bought back good memories of reading Laura's story.

It is funny when things combine like that isn't it - the posts from Pam, my calendar picture and my memories!


Monday, 30 March 2015

Gardening in the front garden?

The title of this post has been changed.  It was F  r  o  l  i  c  k  i  n  g in the front garden, but seemed to be attracting the attention of some internet robots so I changed it!

The title of this post, ahem, might lead you to wonder what this is about, but it isn't anything worrying - promise!  Thinking of post titles just defeats me sometimes and I thought this might make you laugh! 

The front garden has of course not been left out of the spring gardening.  I have seen buds coming out on the clematis - no pics! - and it will soon be full of growth and buds.

I like to have some pots of flowers by the door - especially in the spring - to welcome visitors.  The bay tree is doing well and so are the polyanthus.  I added some daffodils in two pots.

The bucket was full of crocuses that I showed you and now these miniature daffodils have come through to take the place of the crocuses.

One of the best things about spring is that the hornbeam hedge sheds its leaves - somewhat messily! - as the buds of the new leaves push the old leaves off.  That is a definite sign of spring.

We have always had these wild violets growing in the grass, but the seem to have increased in number this year.

They are so pretty.  I thought about picking a tiny posy, but the stems are so short that I left them in the grass.  It seems that they are very happy there!

It has been so good to get outside again and enjoy the garden.  I am hoping to do some more this weekend and we will probably spend Easter doing lots more too!

How is your garden growing?


Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sunlit Sunday - final week this year!

Today is the last Sunlit Sunday link up for this year.  Thank you Karen so much for hosting for the last three months.  I do so enjoy reading your posts, and others too as well as joining in myself when I can.

The instructions from Karen are to be as literal or figurative as we like in our posts.  So this year mine have varied from either end of that instruction. 

This week seemed like a good time to reflect back on the last three months worth of posts.  If you want a read you can find all of my posts here.  Here is a quick recap of some of the highlights from 2015! 

I took pictures of the blue sky and clouds.

Noticed the way the sun shone through things on the windowsill.

I spent a lot of time in January looking at the sky.

 See how it looked different on different days.

I also spent time watching the raindrops on the windows.

 I also played around making sparkles.

Then I turned to looking at the sunsets.

More looking at things with the sun shining through them.
Then my posts became a little more figurative, thinking about my jar of happy and gratitude.

Of course I could not stop looking at the blue sky though!

And watching to see what was coming up in the garden.


 The snowdrops were so beautiful.  I shared them several times.

 My skywatching wasn't all about sunsets or blue skies though.  I saw these amazing contrails one day.


 More crocuses came out all over the garden and made a beautiful sight.


Then two weeks ago I returned to the figurative with these words (not mine I should say!).

Exercising Gratitude
Like many of us, I have emerged from winter battered and exhausted, unable to raise the emotional thermostat from the low settings it had precipitated.
Like many of us, I have started to go back to exercising the "almost inevitable" pause of the Christmas period.  Except that this time I have added a simple routine which does not involve getting sweaty or breathless, but it does have a similar beneficial effect on my wellbeing and, if you agree with the butterfly effect, on the world's wellbeing too.
Once a day I find a quiet spot, I get comfortable and I bring to my mind ten things which I am grateful for, counting them on my fingers.  Professor Mark Williams, a clinical psychologist at the University of Oxford, states that it is important to get to ten things, even when it becomes increasingly harder after three our four!  This is what the exercise is for - intentionally bringing into awareness the tiny, previous unnoticed elements of the day.
Modern neuroscience has proved what ancient spiritual wisdom had recommended for centuries  and followers of Jesus are invited to do: saying thanks works.

This seems like a good place to leave Sunlit Sunday for this year.  I hope that you have enjoyed my posts.  I have certainly enjoyed taking part and I thank you Karen for hosting Sunlit Sunday again this year.

I wish you all a great year ahead with lots of sunlit moments and things to be grateful for.  I am grateful for you all stopping by here and being such wonderful people!
Happy Sunday and Happy Sunshine!