Sunday, 30 March 2014

At the Sugar Shack
March 29th, 2014

Most springs we go to a maple syrup festival. There are several to choose from, some further afield than others. This year we went to the one at Purple Woods Conservation Area a few miles north of town. There were a couple hundred people there today--lots of families with kids.

Our first stop was the building at the top of the hill for pancakes, maple syrup and coffee. The pancakes were delicious. The maple syrup was especially good this year.

While we were having our pancakes, a young girl at the next table wanted to buy some 25¢ maple candies. Her father told her he'd give her $3.00 if she could tell him how many candies she could get with it.

It took her a few minutes but she came up with the right answer. I think dad would have given it to her even if she got it wrong.

They process the maple sap in the shack. It's at the bottom of the hills so the sap tubing feeds down to it, using a vacuum pump to make the gathering more efficient. Gravity helps, but not much I gather.

They only charged $2.00 for the wagon rides... very reasonable these days I thought. The kids love them. I think a lot of adults get a kick out of them too.
They've had the same beautiful team of horses for quite a few years now.

As you walk down the hill to the sugar shack you see the plastic tubing used to gather the sap.

Smaller lines feed into larger ones as you get closer to the shack. The wood pile here is what they stoke their boiler with to boil down the sap.

Things get a bit complicated sometimes. 
They have a few displays set up near the shack.

The displays are manned by students. This is how our pioneers did it.

For trees at the bottom no lines are used, just spigots & pails. Gravity does it here.

You can see the sap in the plastic pails--not much in this one yet.

The displays were mostly to show how things used to be. When the natives harvested the sap they hollowed out small logs, put the sap in them, heated rocks in the fire and put them in the sap. Must have taken a while that way.

These beans & corn were part of the native story.

The boiler is in the sugar shack. A few years ago it was a much simpler one. Business must be good.

When you figure they have to boil 40 litres of sap to get 1 litre of maple syrup, it's understandable that it's pricey. In effect, when you buy your bottle of syrup you're also paying for 39 bottles of sap that were boiled off into the air. Makes it seem like a bargain when you take that into account.

With our crazy winter this year, they said this was the first day the sap was running. The syrup we had on our pancakes was some of last year's harvest.

On the way home we stopped at White Feather Farms to pick up some of their delicious fare. This corn field is south of their parking lot. It caught my eye... a mix of order and chaos. I'm not sure which shot I like best.

Do you find any of them interesting... or are they just boring to you?

Maple syrup festivals are great fun. The pancakes & syrup are always delicious--this year they were especially good. It's always fun seeing the kids have such a good time too.

- fini -

Monday, 24 March 2014

On the Path -- In the Woods
March 22nd, 2014

On my walk I often slip into the woods at the top of the path. It's not a large area but it's always a welcome diversion. It's typical of woods in our area... a mix of maple, beech, hemlock, oak and birch trees, with a small creek at the bottom of the sloping hillside.

Only the hemlock are showing green this time of year.

Today I saw some interesting fungi. This tree was obviously cut down. The way the fungus has spread on the cut end seems odd. The outer layers are greener so it looks like the cream colored fungus favoured them. Is the black on the deadwood another type of fungus... or a mold?

Birch trees have very obvious lenticles--the horizontal black dashes in this case--that trees breathe through.

Beech are easily identified by their smooth bark. It's known that initials carved in beech can last for decades. It looks like someone carved something in this beech in 1966. If so, that was 48 years ago. Have they been back since to check their work?

On the other hand, these are natural markings. I see a two-faced tribesman with feathered headgear, brandishing a spear. And not doing so well, what with arrows or short spears through various parts of his body.

Fungus on a fallen birch. Some fungi are more resistant to the cold than others--I'm guessing. Some turn black, some don't.

Though these are last year's leaves, they're still a welcome sight now that the snow is finally melting away and revealing more of them.

What's left of a stump. Decay has almost claimed it all. Even at this stage though, you can see some of the annual rings and the rays that radiate from the center of a tree.

I know that we can't rush spring but it sure will be welcome this year. The winter weather just drags on and on. Spring and winter are like two sumo wrestlers this year, pushing and shoving each other. We know spring will win in the end, but the bout is dragging on far too long.

- fini -

Monday, 17 March 2014

Winter is Still with Us

I was in Cobourg again today so I went to check out the harbour to see what was there. It's always been a hot spot for waterfowl, even on frigid days like today. It's that damn wind.

The birds seem to have worked out their territories. The geese on shore, or close to it on the ice, the gulls further out on the ice (other than the 3 that have befriended the geese on the beach) and the swans and a few ducks in the small slit of open water against the pier. (enlarge for a better view)

Papa goose performing his duty, watching over his mate as she rests. He's not about to let that gull get too close. The bay is mostly frozen, but the lake is clear, and a deep blue today--beyond the lighthouse.

Another gander on guard... watching the skies.

The bay is ice, though it almost looks like water, the way it froze over.

On the way home I stopped in at Bond Head (Newcastle). With each cold snap, we hope it's the last for the winter but mother nature seems to have a never-ending supply of cold snaps for us this year.

Fishermen are a hardy breed.

I'm happy with fish from the grocery store.

A church in town. Hmm, hmm.
Spring weather really does have to arrive at some point, doesn't it?

- fini -

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Oshawa 2nd Marsh
March 9th, 2014

Early March... better, but not warm yet. Bright sunshine but crisp. A good day for a walk for sure but still cold on the hands if you're out shooting with a camera. 

I walked the berm to the lake today. Met a half-dozen others and a couple fishermen. Not much to see. Winter hasn't lost its grip yet. But good to get out just the same. 

Who doesn't look forward to spring? I hear some don't but they're definitely in the minority. It still fascinates me when I think that a scene like this, dominated by browns, will be overwhelmingly green in just a matter of weeks. The land will reawaken once again.

Yellow Cane on the berm. It's a much more wide-open view throughout the marsh this time of year.

Only two fishermen at the lake today. They look very small on such a large lake. This is where Farewell Creek enters the lake--a popular spot for fishing. (You get a much better impression of the lake if you enlarge the images.)

With all the talk of the Great Lakes freezing over this year, it's a little surprising to see Lake Ontario so clear of ice.

I asked if they had any luck so far--"No", one said. Then I asked 'What do you get this time of year?'. The response: "Fresh air." I had to chuckle at that answer. 

When you can't see the opposite shore, it's easy to understand why the Great Lakes are sometimes referred to as 'inland seas'.

A couple small flocks of geese coming in.

I don't see geese skim the lake like this very often. Cormorants, yes... geese, no.

Bonnie Brae Point on the horizon. The wide-angle lens makes the horizon look curved--too much bother to fix it.

Boring or interesting, depending on your point of view. I find nature's randomness interesting at times. Maybe I'm looking for order in the chaos.

Farewell Creek along the berm. It'll soon be flowing with the spring melt.

A lonely fungus. The green on the left is the only green I saw in the marsh today. In fact I didn't even see in the marsh--I only saw it when I had the image on the computer screen.

Wild Cucumber pods... pretty tatty this time of year, but recognizable.
Ghost Road Bush in winter... the boardwalk is still hidden under the snow. I can't wait for the Mayapples, Dwarf Ladyslippers, et al that will soon be springing up on the forest floor.

Visitors leave seeds for the Chickadees throughout the year. I saw a small pile of cereal today too. The Chickadees weren't interested in it.

They're probably the cutest of our birds.

 A fairly uneventful day at the marsh, but any day at the marsh is a good one. It's like they say about scotch whiskey... "There's no such thing as bad scotch, it's just that some is better than others."

Spring is starting to push winter to the background but it'll take a while yet. My next visit to the marsh will be a much warmer one I'm sure.

The Friends of Second Marsh web site...
A direct link to a map of the paths/trails in the marsh...

A link to a page that has my past posts re the marsh, in one place rather than scattered throughout this blog...

- fini -

Search my Blog...