Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Those are the Breaks! Part the Second

We're recuperating nicely in Arizona, thank you. How nice not to need a store-bought heavy jacket, nor a home-made scarf, nor the four layers of outdoor readiness (with the exception of the waning hours of our NY stay).

Things were just ducky during our last full day cruising the Northern border. At a pond at one of our breaks we saw 12-15 Mallards - drakes and hens - come skidding to a stop on the chilled water, shake themselves, and let the water roll . . . you know how water behaves with these creatures. Great sport! At first one walked (waddled) on the thin layer of ice near the edge of the small pond and soon many of the gang were attempting it - with expected results. It provided many solid digital shots.

Another break in the day was when we were alerted to a mink scurrying from the pond to the woods with a reward of some type in its mouth (nothing Mallard-like). We may or may not have a distinct pic - its under review at the moment.

Let's take a break from the breaks and dabble in an older word or two from our wonderful language. (No extra charge.) The question is - would you rather be an eggler or a flunkey?
As an eggler you would gather and sell not only eggs of all kinds for eating and hatching, but nests, snakes and other items for curious purchasers.
The eggler was outside in his travels, and the flunkey moreso. He was a 'servant of the livery'. When the coach left, the flunkey ran along with or ahead of the horses carrying a lantern or torch to light the way, pay tolls, or otherwise be ready to meet the needs of the coachman or passengers.

What a life those teens had - fresh air - exercise - entrepeneurship opportunities- travel and adventure - little, if any, homework. Rugged individualism at its best. Right!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Those are the breaks!

[Note: Recent inactivity on this blog will not be commented on until a thorough review of plausable explanations has been listed, field-tested and approved by the director.]

On this day, as in several previous, one finds oneself 20 miles from the Canadian border in Plattsburgh, NY. We had a break in the wind. (Do I need to reword that?) What had been a force of 15-25mph [c.25-40kph [for our bi-numeral acquaintances]] was down to three to five mph [five to eight kph] for today.

We also had a break regarding the temperature. Gone was the 25 F [Celcius on your own], here came 45 F.

The missus and I headed out to a sugar shack to surprise friends in the middle of boiling sap in the process of making maple syrup. Alas, there was no activity to benefit from our surprise. The preceding two nights and days had been too cold for the sap to flow at a good pace. They thought that tomorrow would be a good day for boiling. Earlier in the week, 150 gallons of syrup had been produced. That's dealing with about 6,000 gallons of sap, and I'm not going to try to figure that in liters (or is that litres). Sooooo we searched out other sugar shacks to bother, but none had weather different from our first stop. So. magically, our visit turned into a shopping tour in the gift shop of one of the sugar shacks. Maple cocoa, maple coffee, varieties of shapes of maple sugar items, 2009 syrup, maple cream, pervasive aroma. Just a bit heady. . . . (yes, they will ship).

Several years ago I became aware of birch syrup - from an inquiry about maple syrup in Alaska. I learned that it takes about double the amount of birch sap to develop one gallon of birch syrup - 80 gallons. The aroma and the flavor are somewhat medicinal in my judgement. It is not too distant from the soda Moxie - even the diet variety carries that flavor. It all works out O.K., as it tastes pretty good on Dairy Queen. Really.

So, the day was a break from some of the have-tos of the week and the resignation of sparing ourselves from the 'brisk' winter weather by being indoor people. During our tour of duty in the North Country, I recall the period we called the 'January thaw'. Around the third week or so of January, we would benefit from a warming period - the snow and ice would melt for a few days, and I would allow myself to think 'Ah, we're going to have an early Spring this year. Good for us!' The thoughts and hopes were shattered in not too many days by the return of belligerent Winter weather, freezing the tears on our cheeks.

Those were the breaks.