Monday, March 20, 2017

Harbinger of Spring

Although I still haven't written the post about my maple-scented memories (maybe later this week), I am putting together just a simple maple-related post, using some recently discovered vintage items, for the first day of spring.

Lately I've been doing much sorting and decluttering of old keepsakes.  One of my favorite recent finds was the note card above.  I'd be keeping it regardless of the picture on the front, because the note inside was written by a great-aunt I didn't know well.  She was thanking my mother for sending her and my great-uncle a photo of us kids: "What a pretty little group they are."

The note card, though, depicting a hillside sugar house, is just beautiful.  Here's what it says on the back of the card:

famous for its aroma of maple sugar and 
hickory smoke, is from an original oil
painting by Freddy Peterson, who was born in
Denmark and studied extensively in Europe
before entering the United States in 1924.

The card was a product of Scenic View Cards in Hanover, Massachusetts.

(Do be sure and click to enlarge the card and see the details.)

As I've said before, I grew up with sugaring.   It's an important part of who I am.  So I was just thrilled to find this beautiful note card.  But there was more.

I'm not sure if all states do this (I believe they do) but in New Hampshire the fourth graders get a special emphasis on state history.  That's often the time for field trips to the state house and to the NH Historical Society Museum and so on.  The students have to do some sort of report or research project on state history.

Back in the day (a l-o-n-g time ago) when I was in fourth grade, the requirement was the same.  That may be when it all started, for all I know.  In my elementary school years, educational television was becoming the latest and greatest thing.  With my classmates, I'd leave the classroom on certain days each week and walk down, then across, the street to a different building and file into the basement where we had classes on music, French, and New Hampshire history at varying times.   (From what I recall, the music classes were not on TV.  All I really remember of them was that we had music books and that we learned to sing a lot of songs from them.)  Although the televised teachers did their best to make the state history and the French classes interesting, they did not really hold one's attention.  I suppose that is why I didn't really grasp the importance of either state history or the required project.  I vaguely remember doing much of it at the last minute and not getting a wonderful grade on it.

Fast-forward to my sorting and decluttering spree and I found the report with other keepsakes in an old desk.  There were a number of New Hampshire postcards stapled or taped to the pages, and also a couple of New Hampshire-related poems clipped from a newspaper.  One of the poems, and one of the postcards, are sugaring-related and so I am sharing them in this post.
This  postcard, depicting gathering sap with oxen, was sent to me in 1958
The poem is called Harbinger of Spring and the author simply signed him or herself as "Word Lover."  Here it is:

It's sugarin' time in New 
     England hills
And that's a sign of spring,
When warmth of sun and 
     wakening life
The magic flow will bring.

The trees are tapped, the 
     pails are hung,
The wood is amply piled,
To keep alive the roaring
Until the sap is "biled".

The hours of toil are long
     and weary
When sugar' time comes 
There's many a trip 'tween
     tree and vat ----
But eager joys abound.

After boiling's done, comes
     sugarin' off
And with beautiful amber
The syrup becomes 
     delicious taffy
When poured on pure white

Yes, it's sugarin' time in 
     New England hills --
God's chosen place on earth
Whence comes this wood-
     land nectar rare
Of truly royal worth!

Whoever Word Lover was, I appreciate their poem.  I hope you have enjoyed it -- and the other sweet vintage delights -- as much as I enjoyed finding and sharing them.


  1. A very interesting story Mrs T. Like you I remember when PBS came to our area. It did open doors to things my small rural school could not give me.

    1. That is so interesting that you can remember the educational programming coming to your area too!

  2. Oh yes! I did enjoy it. I am particularly charmed by stories of maple sugaring. I had been pumped right full of stories as a child and it settled right into my psyche. I have inly vague recollections of those tv classes...we did have a few. You are right; they didn' have much of an effect. Nothing beats an engaged, interested and interesting teacher!

    1. I hope I can share more of my sugaring memories, Vee. As a child I have vivid memories of being allowed to run up to my grandparents' sugarhouse (far out of sight in the woods) after school. Then in my teens my dad built a little sugarhouse near our home, as my brother had been given all the syrup-making equipment in a very small size. We did backyard sugaring there until my own kids were in their teens.

      You're right about the importance of teachers being engaged, interested, and interesting! I was blessed to have several that fit that description.

  3. This was fun to read. There are several sugaring places around here, and last year when we were in SW Wisconsin at sugaring time, we saw miles of Amish pipeline in the woods that carried the sap downhill to a main collecting location where the horses and sap tank were waiting.

    Thank you for stopping in at Cranberry Morning. You show up as a No Reply blogger, or I would have emailed you this response, but I wanted you to know that I think it's wonderful that the care facility where your father is has a resident Smokey. Animals are so therapeutic - for anyone, and I think more places ought to realize how much benefit their people gain from having a pet to interact with.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Judy. As I mentioned to Vee above, I have so many great memories of sugaring; I need to get them down on paper while I still remember.

      Yes, isn't it great that there is a resident Smokey in my dad's unit? I remember years ago when my grandmother was in a nursing home, they had a cat for the residents to enjoy also. I actually think there may be a second cat in a different unit at my dad's care facility.

      And volunteers plus some of the staff often bring their dogs in for the residents to enjoy. It's a real blessing, as you said -- so much benefit to interacting with pets.

  4. I enjoyed your post so much. I hope you will tell us more about your memories. I recently read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder about Almanzo's childhood in upstate NY and he tells about the maple sugar and syrup time.

    1. Isn't Farmer Boy a wonderful book, Karen? All of my kids enjoyed that one so much. Such detailed descriptions of life on that very self-sufficient farm, and especially of the food!

      I hope to get my maple sugaring memories down on paper (or should I say on screen) this week. We will see!


Thanks so much for stopping by to visit my kitchen table! I love company here in my kitchen, so be sure to leave a comment so I'll know you've visited! I'll answer your questions and comments here on the blog unless you request otherwise.