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Maple Moon Farm

One winter afternoon on a farm in southwestern Maine, after painting in snow showers all afternoon two plein air painters get a taste of fresh sugar on snow!

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Painting While its Snowing !

It snowed off and on the whole time we painted. What a great afternoon! I was happy I had my umbrella in the car. As soon as it started snowing I put it up. I had a sneaky feeling that it was going to snow off and on all afternoon. And it did ! Every few minutes a new snow squall would blow through.

Here is a peek at how I start my painting of a sugar house on a snowy late winter day.

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Snow, Mud & Maple Syrup

When spring arrives in New England the maple sugar houses are a beehive of activity, with the collecting and cooking of maple sap. This year the sap started rising in the maple trees in early February.

Our early spring cycle of warm days and cold nights has created ideal conditions for the maple syrup harvest.  

There was plenty of warm sunshine, melting snow and mud when we headed up to visit sugar houses in the small town of Newfield, Maine.

On our drive north through Shapleigh, Maine we spotted a small sugar house by the side of the road.  The sap lines from the maple trees up on the hill behind it were delivering sap directly into the cooker.

The sap was boiling away, creating thick clouds of sweet, warm fragrant steam….

High up on a beam near the roof vent sat a line of old sap buckets.

The fire in the cast iron fire box under the sap cooker was kept stoked.  Cords of neatly stacked wood sat nearby. 

A line of syrup containers sat on a sill above a window.

There was little time to set up an easel to paint on this fast moving tour. This was a sketching trip ! We were covering a lot of territory in an afternoon.  

The snow melted in patches on the south side of Bond Mountain. 
6×9 watercolor sketchbook

At Sugar Hill in Newfield they started the sap cooking season with 16 cords of wood. They were running out of wood with only a few cords left in the storage space next to the cooker.

The snow still sat in big drifts on the north side of the hill while there was bare ground and mud on the south side.  
6×8 watercolor sketchbook

Some farmers used the traditional buckets and traveled through the woods collecting the sap with a tractor and wagon.

I  sketched as fast as I could at each location.  There were throngs of people visiting every sugar shack.  

Hilltop Boilers only used buckets to collect sap.  
6×8 watercolor sketchbook

It was great to see the metal pails being used. I remember these from  my childhood when I saw them each spring all over the woods in western Massachusetts. 

Sap buckets. 
4×8 watercolor  sketchbook

Hilltop Boilers had a sharp new sugar house.

Sugar Hill 
6×8 watercolor sketchbook

 
This maple sugaring tour was a first for me. I’d never seen so many different sugar houses in one day.  It’s been a cold spring here in Maine so it is nice to see that chilly weather has created this bountiful maple syrup harvest. These farmers are happy with this great syrup season!