Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mmmmm… Maple Syrup and Spring Flowers!!!!

Now that I’m working as The Peacebus driver during the weekdays and a Para-Transit driver on Saturdays, I try to enjoy my one day off as much as possible!

I thrive on sleeping in every Sunday morning and lazing around with Joanne and our family of pets for the rest of the day. Occasionally, we’ll spend the afternoon with Jo’s parents, enjoying a meal that we didn’t have to prepare! Every once in a while I’ll surprise Jo’ with something fun to do…

… like a nice drive into the country to enjoy a pancake breakfast topped with the finest maple syrup around. This was our first time to McLachlan Family Pancake House and I was surprised to find that so many other people had the same great plan. Now if I could only inspire this many people to share in another great plan… like PEACE ON EARTH… then I’d really smile!

As the horse carriage ride pulled away, the rest of us had to suffer through the intoxicating smells that wafted out to the lineup as we waited our turn to be fed.

While we waited, I checked out some of the small displays that told the history of maple syrup production as it dates back hundreds of years. The first makers of this great Canadian product boiled the sap collected from hanging buckets throughout the maple tree stands for hours and hours… maybe even days.

The process evolved into the creation of these small sheds. Larger and shallower containers were built to boil the tree sap in more efficient ways.

Now-a-days the process is even more efficient. Workers no longer have to walk throughout the forests collecting the tree sap that has collected in hanging buckets. Instead plastic lines are connected to the ‘taps’ and the sap travels along joining lines.

The forest now resembles an intricate highway map, with smaller lines feeding into ever-larger ones until it final reaches the small processing plant. I’d hate to be a rabbit being chased by a fox trying to run through this forest! Hmmmm… actually, all of these obstacles just might help the rabbit survive!!

A huge vacuum-like machine is found near the processing plant and this uses suction to pull the sap through the lines.

These operations are very small – this one is a family business – and the impact on the surrounding area is very low. Electricity is used to power a few simple machines that use steam to boil down the tree sap.

As we continued to wait for our breakfast, I noticed a few funny things in the forest. Like this ‘red-neck’ weather vane. A rock is dangling from a leather strap to a long outstretched wooden pole, in the middle of the forest. When the rock becomes wet we know that it is raining. When the rock is dry it is sunny outside. If the rock is moving we know that a strong breeze is blowing. If the rock is bouncing around we know that an earthquake has hit the area and if the rock is gone then we had better run for cover cuz a tornado is passing through!!!

The lineup had been steadily moving and soon we found ourselves nearer the entrance door. Just above our heads I saw these directional signs. These signs are very old and were made way before anyone had ever heard of a GPS, so I’m wondering just how accurate they really are!!!

The inside atmosphere was very rustic. Tables and chairs filled the space just like an old style worker’s camp. The walls were decorated with old farming tools and lots of comical expressions. The owners must laugh a lot!

We purchased our tickets for breakfast and soon our plates were being filled!

Finally! Time to sit down and enjoy some pancakes and some local sausages.


After such a delightfully filling breakfast, Jo’ and I thought that a bumpy horse ride would help us to digest our food. LOL! What beautiful creatures horses are!

The horse ride was shorter than I thought – almost comic! It took about two minutes to reach the end of the small Maple tree forest where the horses turned around and brought us back to the beginning. We had a few laughs during the ride so it was time well spent!

When we arrived home, Joanne went about doing some of her usual Sunday chores. Since the sun was shining and I had so much energy from such a great breakfast I decided to do a little gardening. My first task was to clean up the front flowerbeds. As you can see, there was still snow on the ground, but I didn’t care. I have been waiting for Spring to arrive since the first snowflake fell, last year. This is my favourite season!

My first chore was to hand pick all the small bits of gravel that ended up on the flower garden that traveled there from the driveway during the many times I had to clear the snow away. Koly kept watch to make sure that I did a good job!

While I was doing that I noticed a few Daffodils poking through the leaves that I had raked onto my flower garden last fall. This reminded me of a blog story that I wrote a couple of years ago - http://bitsandpeaces08.blogspot.com/2009/03/listening-to-growing-grass.html. This also gave me an idea that I think I will try in a few of my gardens this year!

I’ve shared ideas about creating a weed free garden before. In those stories I’ve told how I like to plant low-lying flowers around plants that grow a bit taller - I’ll plant low-lying violets around hostas. The violets shade to soil retaining water and they make it very hard for other weeds to grow in this space. Voila! No weeds!

Since even small flowers – such as Daffodils or Tulips – obviously have the strength to poke through this layer of decomposing leaves, my idea will be to leave the leaves in a few gardens to see what happens. The leaves will decompose throughout the summer and while they are doing that they will also help to retain valuable water for my flowers. Weeds will have a hard time growing through the leaves and the ones that do will be weak and easy to pull. This plan will help me to use last year’s autumn leaves in productive ways – instead of taking up space in landfills. Every little thing we can do to keep anything out of a landfill is a good thing.

However, I have also thought that these decomposing leaves may begin to grow fungus while they are decomposing and this will be no good for the flowers. I will have to watch and learn to see what will happen. That is why I will experiment in just a few flower gardens, this year.

For this front yard flower garden I’ve decided to remove the leaves. I have plans to add a few more flowers to this area and the leaves would get in my way, so off they go!

I created this garden last spring, filling it with Daffodils and Day Lilies. I’ve noticed that when I transplant flowers of this nature that they don’t bloom very much during their first season in their new home. Their roots are healing from the transplant. Last year only six Daffodils bloomed and only eight or nine Day Lilies bloomed. I’m very excited to watch this entire garden fill with blooms this year. I’m expected about ten Day Lily blooms per flower this season and this will equal close to two hundred blooms in total! Very impressive!!!

This is a bud from a very pretty flowering plant. Again, I’m expecting about ten times the amount of flowers this year, compared to last. I love gardening cuz I’m always learning. This year I will learn the name of this plant.

A few more minutes of raking and I uncovered several small patches of Tulips. I’m totally amazed at the number of flowers that are growing from each small cluster that I planted last year. I wrote a blog about Tulip transplants last year -http://bitsandpeaces08.blogspot.com/2010/04/so-what-if-im-month-behind-with-my.html - and I mentioned that I transplant the bulbs in small groups of four. So how come my groups of four are now groups of nine???? I love the expansioning prowess of Nature!

This is about as far as I’ve gotten with my garden so far this season. I was excited to do more, the next day, but I woke up to another fifteen centimeters of snow! Since then an arctic low pressure cell has been hovering over the area and the snow hasn’t melted.

I want the snow to go so my flowers will grow!


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