News from Vermont #260 - Turnin' Left
Hello again Maple People,
My father-in-law used to say "Y'git old too fast n'smart too slow" and I agree. I just reached 64 and, sure, there are a few things I know now that I didn't at 40 but I still do stupid things every day. I've learned a little something this sugarin' season though that'll sit in this bald head of mine and get gnarly like an old maple tree. One of em's about turning left from a public road with a tractor. Back during the height of our season I was headed down the road with the sap rig. Although I should have known better, I tried the age-old left hand turn signal and, one more time, I found that to modern folks it doesn't mean left at all...it means "c'mon by!"
First of all, when you're as old as I am, you remember cars that didn't have turn signals. Instead, they had human arms that projected through open windows; left was a rigid left arm and index finger pointed left, right was a left arm right-angled with the palm pointing to the sky. Of course the left signal was the important one because a left-turning vehicle being passed on the left by another one translates to disaster and that's just about what happened the other day. I had the Kuboda in high gear, "just-a-smokin'" downhill at 15 mph. The trailer tank behind me was half full of sap and I was in a hurry to finish my rounds and get back to the sugarhouse. About 300 feet before Chip Stone's driveway, I stood up to see what was behind me. First in line was a Volvo station wagon followed by a few other cars. I stood up, thrust my left arm and index finger out rigid as a toy soldier, and then started my left turn. Having been through this before I was prepared for anything and, sure enough, as I crept over the center line, all of a sudden "Volvo" was right there beside me!
In the car was a young man and woman, both with looks of terror on their faces. The man was driving and somehow I knew the conversation they'd just had went something like this: wife said, "I think he may be turning left" and husband said "Honey, we're late for work.". I, on the other hand, had 400 gallons of sloshing sap pushing me and extreme damage control on my mind. From my standing position, I stomped my right foot down trying hard to hit both brake pedals evenly (for those not tractor-savvy, tractors have left and right brakes which can cause severe tractor summersaults if not applied evenly at high speeds). I managed to get the rig stopped and there we were, two motor vehicles side-by-side and idle in the road. The young couple still peered panic-stricken through the Volvo's side window. The old man on the tractor, now drenched from a sap tsunami, stood with his left arm suddenly transformed to a shaking fist!
After I regained my composure, I waved them on by and "stayed put" until the line of commuters following the Volvo cleared as well. My anger subsided as I went about my sap collecting duties. In fact, the more I thought, the less I faulted that young man for misunderstanding my hand signal. Slow moving vehicles are as foreign to today's fast moving world as Morse Code is to "texting"...why should these folks know a language they never learned? Yes, the communication gap is alive and well but whether you're an Amishman in a buggy or an old man on a tractor you best include two words top on your vocabulary: "drive defensively!"
Another thing I learned this season is about the weather. It seems there are more darned radio and TV meteorologists these days than you could shake an ice storm at. I know, they're just doing their job but, gosh, I sure got sick of all the cussed "good weather" they recently reported! You see, maple sugarmakers are connoisseurs of "bad" weather. Between March 1 and April 15, we'll take our nights freezing and our days thawing with a little slushy snow in the air and lots of mud on the ground, thank you very much. Lately we've been snowed with too many "oowhs and aawhs" over sunny skies and summerlike temps.
That said, guess I'd better admit to being a "dinosaur"...the language I speak is often misunderstood and the things I want are not always available. There's one thing though that'll not change: if you see me sitting in the right-side ditch on my tractor, c'mon by...I won't budge until you've driven off into the sunshine.
Well sugarin' 2012 is officially over. I finished cleaning the evaporator yesterday and today I will set the sugarhouse up for off-season tourism. Speaking of which, there were several tourist groups in yesterday. I was glad to take a break from my cleaning and tell them how it all works. When I reported the terrible season which just ended, they asked if syrup would be "goin' up". When I said "no", two of them replied that it seems high already. On further questioning, I found that they were compairing our syrup with that awful stuff from a grocery store labeled "maple flavored syrup"...must admit, it took me a while to get my old heart settled back down! That experience, though, made me know one more time why we spend so much time educating folks on the Vermont Pure Maple Syrup process (not to be compared to that"sugary stuff" with a long list of ingredients).
Pure Maple Syrup has fewer calories than that fake stuff. It has proven anti-oxident qualities, trace minerals, and vitamins...it's pure, right from a tree! After I explained that to the two folks yesterday, they understood and went down and bought some syrup. You can, too, at www.morsefarm.com.
Thanks so much for your continued support!