Sunday, March 18, 2018

Pour Some Sugar On


This may be the one and only time you see me say I was hoping for snow this week. Especially, since it is March and everybody is ready to be done with winter, including me. But last week found me doing a run and gun through a favorite historic homestead and walking park, looking for my daily 365 photograph.  I had about an half hour to kill before I had to pick up Findley, so I thought I would do a quick walk through of the house and barn areas. That is when I saw the metal sap collection buckets. It had snowed with snow squall force that morning and the maple trees and buckets had a heavy blanket of white on them.


I grabbed my daily shot, but knew I wanted to come back when I had more time and my tripod. I also wanted to continue practicing my Compelling Frame photography course lessons.


I have become quite attached to my tripod. I know most of you photographers are saying, "But I hate carrying my tripod, I want to be free to move around." There is certainly truth to that, but I have learned that I also want to be free to slow down and improve my game. A tripod makes me slow down, and honestly my "vision" is so much better when I use it.


Monday morning I got my wish. It wasn't a heavy blanket of white, but it was enough to give a thin coating to the layers of fallen maple leaves, and provide the backdrop I needed for my adventure.


I grew up surrounded by maple trees. When my dad retired he decided to tap those trees and begin making maple syrup. As if his beekeeping hobby, and tenacity for cutting wood for his wood stove weren't enough to keep him busy already. He built his own sugar shack, and would be out there at all hours of the day and night boiling down that sap.


On the average it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Interesting article on maple syrup making here. The average sap collection period can last anywhere from four to six weeks. There were abundant years and there were lean years, but as my dad approached his 70's, I think he had had enough of the lean years. He sold the equipment, and turned the Sugar Shack into another storage shed.


During January and our Whole 30 adventure, we had to give up ALL sugar. It is amazing when you start reading labels on the food at the grocery store how many items have sugar. Here we are mid-March and I still read labels. Now, if I purchase items with sugar, I try to make sure it is either organic cane sugar, or more preferably natural sugars like honey and maple syrup. Locally sourced natural sugars are the best, since my dad still keeps his bees I get my honey from him, and I buy my maple syrup at the farmers market.


I spent a satisfyingly slow hour photographing sap buckets, snowy trees, and the sugar shack. Before I returned to my car to warm up my frozen feet, I made a little detour down a snow covered wooden walkway.

My initial run and gun turned into a substantial exploration.  I throughly enjoy having my creative/adventure days early in the week.

In Other News...



My friend Cathy H. made a comment on my blog last week that resonated so deeply with me, "Sometimes I feel just holding the camera and pushing the shutter button brings me more joy than seeing the photo I took!"  I held that sentence in my heart this week. All it really takes is that first press to get rolling again, the results are not the important part. 

I returned to filming this past week, squeezing in moments when I could. Working on something a little outside my comfort zone, it won't be perfect the first time, but the learning and improving is in the doing.

The kitchen flooring has been ordered. We have found pendant lights for above the peninsula, and they have been ordered. Next step is to contact the electrician to install. More painting ahead this week, coating everything in lovely, neutral Alabaster.


I finished listening to A Gentleman in Moscow this week. I love listening to books while I am in the car and when walking. It is amazing how much you can listen to just running errands around town. I give the book 4-1/2 stars.

20 comments:

  1. Getting the white blanket of snow certainly made a beautiful stage for your little tour and showing us the buckets, and shack. We are partial to real maple syrup...in fact I don't recall the last time we bought the "artificial" kind. I enjoyed reading about your tour and about your dad's interest. The book looks quite intriguing. Happy to hear your kitchen is progressing...in Alabaster, lights and flooring. You'll be enjoying a complete new kitchen just in time to open the windows with fresh spring air.

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  2. Happy new kitchen! I'm glad you got the blanket of snow just in time to get your daily shots...What a pretty set of photos :-)

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  3. Sarah, beautiful. You inspire me. thank you

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  4. You got some great shots and you are inspiring me to use my tripod more

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  5. Beautiful,post Sarah . . . brilliant . . .
    Love the maple drip . . .
    and the Cathy quote . . .

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  6. Nice atmospheric photo series, Sarah. Sap season is the official end to winter around here, too. Once mud season is done with, spring comes!

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  7. Such lovely photos full of atmosphere. I'm not a big fan of maple syrup, but seeing the process and reading about your Dad is a pleasure.
    I belong to those who don't really like to schlepp around a tripod. Our area is very hilly and it's just not fun to carry it up the rough trails. But it does make a difference to use one, I fully agree. And it would be a great weapon should I ever encounter a mountain lion...

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  8. What a beautiful area to explore in the snow! I don't know if it's your tripod or your eyes, but you certainly compose beautiful photos! I love the drip of sap on the end of the spout! I'm honored to be mentioned in your post. One reason I love to read blogs is that I always carry away inspiration from others.

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  9. I am glad the snow cooperated with your so your vision of this series came to be. It looks like a lovely place to visit. Your dad sounds like an man with interesting hobbies and I bet your love of outdoors came from him.
    I must admit I get too impatient to mess with a tripod but you've challenged me to think again and maybe try using it more often. You mentioned it has helped you to slow down and that's a good thing....

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  10. So lovely to go on this walk with you and read more about the collection and the making of maple syrup!

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  11. This is truly such a beautiful series of photographs, Sarah.
    I especially love the third one.
    Just perfect.

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  12. I am glad you got just the right amount of snow for your photo adventure. The timing couldn't have been more perfect with the sap buckets hanging too. I had no idea it took 40 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup! Knowing that makes it an even tastier treat. I have been using my tripod or monopod more often lately. My pictures are sharper when I do. Beautiful images. I have to tell you...after reading the title of your blog post I now have a certain Def Leppard song in my head. :)

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  13. You made the most of this late winter snow, Sarah. These are just beautiful. I love the first three especially.

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  14. What an interesting post. I enjoyed reading about your dad and how he tapped the maple treats. Your photos were just lovely.

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  15. I love maple time - you captured its charm so well! It's a big thing in Vermont. We once stopped at a maple shack to buy a few jars of syrup, and they happened to be inside boiling the sap. They invited us in and then gave us a cup of the boiling sap with a little whiskey and sang some sort of Norwegian folk song... It was quite an afternoon when we were only planning to buy some syrup.

    Whole 30 - yeah... We are on day 29 and looking forward to day 31. I think this program might be about a week too long. During the "tiger blood" period, both Greg and I were like - YES, this is great! waist is shrinking, we feel great - we'll totally continue to follow some of these guidelines afterwards! Now we're just plain tired of so.many.restrictions. But I do think we will continue to moderate all those restricted foods. So I guess that all in all it was a good thing.

    Gentleman in Moscow - loved it! So beautifully written. If I could think like the author let alone write like that, that is what I would do all day!

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  16. I enjoyed hearing about your Dad's honey and syrup making. He sounds like a peaceful man. I've never come across sap buckets. The photos are beautiful. Also, that comment is so true. Have you ever watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? (The new movie, not the old one.) There is a line in there when the photographer is waiting and waiting for the chance to shoot a photo of a rare leopard and then doesn't take it. He says something about just enjoying the moment and not taking the photo. That rings true to me too. Sometimes it's enough and sometimes even better to know that I could take a photo that would be really wonderful and then don't.

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  17. If I could think like the author let alone write like that, that is what I would do all day!


    Royal1688

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  18. I liked that book too. I wish I lived closer to Maple Sugaring locations in PA. Love your snow coating photos.

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