The mud sucked at our boots as we hiked up the road to the Armstrong Farm sugarhouse in Pownal, Vt. I had parked my car on firmer ground, doubting it could successfully wade through the mire. Instead, I struck out on foot, with my then-4-year-old daughter in tow, in pursuit of getting the scoop on the upcoming Vermont Maple Open House Weekend for The North Adams Transcript. If I had to pinpoint when I fell in love with the month of March, it was probably that day.
When my children were younger, March meant we’d be traveling far and wide, visiting sugarhouses in the UpCountry of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, feasting on pancakes and sampling syrups. In April, we’d cuddle newborn sheep and goats, allow calves to nuzzle our outstretched palms and chase the occasional run-away piglet in the Round Stone Barn at Hancock Shaker Village.
Fifteen years after my visit to Armstrong Farm, I can still call up the image of my daughter, now 19 and in college, wide-eyed and on tiptoes, peering over the side of a steaming vat of boiling syrup. And even though my children are grown, the youngest now a freshman in high school, I’m still in love with March. Why?
March is that in-between time; winter is still hanging on and spring has yet to arrive. It begins with the smell of sweet, sticky syrup hanging in the air, and mud beneath our feet — signs that spring is just around the corner; that the days are growing longer and that the mornings will soon be filled with the sounds of spring songbirds.
And then, suddenly, buds are on the trees and the sugaring season is over. April arrives and the air smells of fresh-cut grass with a hint of lingering mud.
While we wait for spring, venture out to a local sugarhouse or two; hit the open road and explore one of New England’s forgotten highways; play a round of tennis on Bennington’s indoor courts, explore the expanding cultural economy of Brattleboro or check out one of the events on our “not to miss” list (pages 40-41).
Jennifer Huberdeau, Editor