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MARTHA SEZ: ‘I found that my car had sunk to its hubcaps in mud’

March 15, 2019
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

It is now mid-March (beware the Ides of March, by the way), and apparently we have entered Mud Season, even though it is still snowing as I write.

Those who were born in the North Country and have spent their entire lives here may be surprised to learn that Mud Season is not a universal concept. Not everyplace has a mud season.

About 30 years ago, when I was new in town, I went to a Keene Central School event and left my car off to the far right side of the parking lot. There was plenty of room there, and I wondered why. When I came out of the school I found that my car had sunk to its hubcaps in mud. It was like quicksand. The more I spun my wheels the deeper I was mired.

Luckily, Thomas McCabe, the husband of Joy McCabe, the English teacher, had a rope and a truck and was helpful enough to pull the car out of the mud. I don't remember whether he had a winch. Once again, thank you, Tom! That was my introduction to Mud Season.

Some time later I started hearing a loud banging noise in the wheel area of my automobile when I was driving. I couldn't outrun it. In fact, the faster I drove, the louder it became. When I finally took it in to Devins Garage, Timothy Devins discovered that the racket was caused by dried mudballs inside the hubcaps.

Another sign of spring is that people start "sugaring." Before I came here, I didn't know that there was a verb to "sugar." Sugaring involves tapping maple trees in a sugar bush, which is a stand of maple trees. People pound little spigots into the trunks of maples and collect the sap that flows out in a bucket. Nowadays some people attach plastic hoses to the spigots, and these hoses carry the sap to a big vat.

In order for the sap to run, sugarers need to wait for a certain kind of weather featuring cold nights and warm days, relatively speaking. I'm never sure what they mean by warm days. Warm compared to what? Luckily, people who sugar know, so that's one more thing I don't need to worry about.

When they get enough sap collected, they take it to a sugar house, where they boil it down into syrup, a process that causes a lot of water to evaporate out. Maple syrup is always delicious, especially when it's still warm from the boiler. It is also good with a whiskey chaser. Don't take my word for it. Try it.

Don't wait too long, though. When the maple trees bud out, sap collection stops. As Rivermede Farm owner Rob Hastings once told me, and as I repeat every year at this time, "It's not over till the frogs start to sing."

According to some lore which I consider to be entirely specious, maple syrup was invented when a Native American in what is now Vermont threw a tomahawk at a tree, thus causing the tree trunk to ooze sap. His wife, for some reason, collected the flowing sap and, either because she was creative or because she was attempting to poison her mate, cooked up his venison with it. Mmmm, he said, upon tasting the meat, that's sweet!

According to this implausible tale, that's how it all began.

Later, perhaps, this Indian woman invented various elixirs with water hemlock and other wild forage, but none ever received the popularity of her original discovery.

Wait. What happened to the hour that was lost when we set the clocks forward? It has to be around here somewhere.

I thought of this when I was checking the hourly weather on the Weather Channel. For March 11, the hours went from 1 a.m. straight to 3 a.m. There was no 2 o'clock in the morning. Perhaps officially that hour didn't happen.

Or maybe that hour just became a free-floating piece of time. Can we claim it, saying "I'm going to take the hour I lost now," and go home early or sleep in? If so, what is the time limit on using it before it expires? Some people are using it as an excuse, saying "Yes, I was going to wash the car, take out the garbage, balance the checkbook or whatever, but the hour I planned it for got lost."

Something to think about. Have a good week.



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