Spring announces its arrival in New England…or so the calendar says!
Finally old man winter is in the rear view mirror and warmer weather (hopefully) is just down the road. Pour a cup of tea and curl up in your favorite chair by the fire…you’ve come to the right place. I’m about to share with you a few things us New Englanders love about spring in our little corner of the world.
The picture you see here is the road I live on and was taken just last week after Mother Nature dumped over 14 inches of snow with an additional 12″ just 4 days later. It’s been a tough winter with 3 Nor’easters just in the month of March. The first Nor’easter earlier in the month was mostly freezing rain with extreme high winds causing power outages and a dozen or more trees to come down in our 10 acre forest…two nearly hitting the house.
The day before I took this photo, I had spring fever and was looking for any excuse to linger outside. I took my Airedale pal, Jack, on the long walk to see the horses he loves to watch; the sun feeling warm on my face albeit the cold temperature. Tempted to rake and wake up the gardens from their winter sleep under the protective blanket of fall leaves, I decided against it. New England weather is very unpredictable, especially in springtime. I remember one early May, years ago, we received about 8″ of snow and all the perennials I had just planted, didn’t survive. So, I impatiently look forward to the long awaited season of awakening and the rebirth of everything beautiful in my gardens. On quiet Saturday mornings I can be found perusing garden magazines and taking notes for upcoming outdoor projects.
Soon, tulips, daffodils, lilacs and hyacinth will be blooming and buds will burst open on the Crab Apple tree in the side yard. And there will be weekends filled with cleanup time with the fallen trees.
We had been shopping for a new home over several months and after visiting listing after listing after listing, were a little discouraged and not very happy with what was on the market. Then I came across one that peaked my interest and thought we should check it out. My husband was playing in a golf tournament early Mothers’ Day morning and my daughter and I were to meet him at the country club for brunch…a perfect opportunity to check out the property located in the historic part of a small New England town.
The Crab Apple was in full bloom and covered with so many pink and white blossoms, the leaves were barely visible. The house faces south, away from the road and towards 10 acres of untouched forest full of places to explore and make forts…and the home to lots of wildlife to observe and enjoy. The white and lavender lilacs that line the west side of the house were blooming and the smell of the air…intoxicating. My daughter and I took our time walking around the grounds and I remember admiring the gardens and the flowering ground myrtle that framed both sides of the long driveway. It was beautiful. When the realtor asked if I’d like to see the inside of the house, I said I didn’t need to. You can always change the inside but you can’t change the setting. It was perfect.
Long story short…we did tour the inside and I brought my husband back later that day to show him the gem I found. We made an offer that day, it was accepted and we moved in over Memorial Day weekend, just 26 days later…25 years ago. So this time of year is very special to me and as I anticipate the crab and lilacs showing off their beautiful blooms in the weeks to come, spring fever is returning again.
Harbingers of Spring in New England
Chipmunks are out of hibernation and when the ice finally melts, I will hear the high pitch chirping of the peepers that live in the pond across the road. Red headed woodpeckers can be seen on the suet feeder daily. They don’t like to share, so the white breasted nuthatches, tufted titmouse and chickadees perch patiently on the branches of the Crab Apple tree in wait. Bluebirds are back and are stunning to look at. And my favorite…the cardinals.
This winter, we had 8 suet feeders dangling on branches of the old crab looking like winter ornaments that kept dozens of birds happy and fed. We also learned that squirrels rather enjoy suet. Just this morning we saw bear tracks in the snow and every feeder was pulled down and ripped apart. I guess they’re out of hibernation. One gray squirrel was seen trying to drag a forgotten suet cake across the snow to his den.
Robins are returning from their migration down south and honking Canadian geese can be seen flying in formation overhead.
Did you know… Robins can fly 30-36mph during migration and often find their way to the exact yard they nested in year after year.
Tiny crocus and violets will soon be showing their colors and I’ll want to take a drive into Boston to attend the annual New England Flower Show. You can smell spring in the air. I don’t know how to describe it but it’s there. You can smell it and I love it.
Other signs of spring in New England are the running of the Boston Marathon and if you’re a baseball fan…the return of the Boston Red Sox. Let’s not forget about the return of Humpback whales from their trek to the Caribbean where they mated and gave birth to calves. Sounds like they had a joyful winter. haha
This is sad and deeply unsettling…
Just recently there was a news report that 150 pilot whales stranded themselves on an Australian beach in Hamelin Bay on the west coast. Volunteers were able to haul 6 survivors back into the water. Unfortunately though, rescued whales often re-strand themselves. Why???
Did you know… in 1996, 320 long-finned pilot whales beached themselves at Dunsborough, Australia, just about 50 miles north of Hamelin Bay.
Here in the states, Cape Cod is a hot spot for stranded whales…about 226 whales and dolphins each year!
Why in the world does this have to happen?!
Some scientists say it’s the location where whales tend to habitat. As an example, take Cape Cod that has hook shaped pieces of land jutting out into the water. Add in sloping sandy beaches and rapidly receding tides. This combination may confuse the whales sonar making them think they’re in deeper water. Or, could it be due to astronomical influences/events and the earth’s magnetic field making the whales internal compasses vulnerable and thus difficult to navigate? I wish I knew…it’s deeply unsettling.
On a happier note
Did you know… One of the rarest creatures in the world, the endangered North Atlantic right whale, has been seen by scientists feeding in Cape Cod Bay. I think it’s a good time to plan a whale watch cruise, don’t you?
Back to Signs of Spring in New England…
Wild turkeys still visit us every day to eat black oil sunflower seeds that we scatter for them in the field by the barn. It’s mating season and the “Toms” can be seen all puffed up strutting around the hens trying to impress them. If you’d like to know more about wild turkeys, please click here to read my blog “Seasons of New England Part 3” where I write more about them. I know you’ll find it both informative and quite interesting.
Looking for something interesting to do this spring? if you’ll be in New England, I’ve got some great weekend ideas for you.
May I suggest…
- Take the kids to the Children’s Museum, Science Museum or the Museum of Natural History.
- Visit the Aquarium in a city near you. The New England Aquarium in Boston has been a favorite of ours over the years and is a must stop if you’re in town or the perfect destination spot after a fantastic meal at the infamous Union Oyster House, America’s oldest restaurant. Check out the booths where you will see little signs of what famous person sat in that exact booth, enjoying a meal, even hundreds of years ago. The oyster bar as well as the booths are in the same spot they were in 1826.
- Home shows are popular in the spring and will get you juiced up with great ideas for those home improvements you’ve been putting off. You know who you are.
- Surprise someone and take in a flower show.
- How about white water rafting? Been there…done that…never again. I went on a wild trip down the mighty Penobscot in Maine on a raft named “Pure Screaming Hell”.
- There are outdoor antique shows to wander through and maybe pick up something you can’t live without.
- Vermont has “Open Studio Weekend” where over 280 artists and craftsmen open their studios and invite the public to see their craft in the making. I’ve always wanted to observe a glassblower create something beautiful.
- Should you be in New England, take a drive into Boston to watch and listen to the Boston Pops.
- While in Boston, I highly recommend taking the Duck Tour around Boston Harbor. It’s an actual authentic WW II amphibious landing vessel which has been converted into a sight seeing boat. You’ll love it.
Spring is Maple Madness SeasonTake a drive through the country and you will see hundreds of buckets tapped on the sides of maple trees everywhere. When the snow starts to melt and the days get warmer, sap starts to flow and will fill those buckets.
Visit a Sugarhouse during maple season where you can encounter all sorts of activities, demonstrations and enjoy the entertainment festivities. You can sample maple syrup and maple products. Take a tour and watch how maple syrup is produced and pick up a bottle or two to bring home. I love to drizzle maple syrup over hot breakfast sausages. I’ll bet you’ve never had a “maple dog”… hot dogs boiled in maple sap. How about maple coffee and maple doughnuts?
Pick up a few treats to tuck in an Easter Basket! Have a child away at college? Send her a little love from New England with an Easter Basket full of maple treats like maple cream to spread on a bagel, maple popcorn that tastes like caramel and maple cotton candy. Yep…they make that too.
Speaking of Easter…
I have lots of fond memories preparing Easter eggs over the years, even trying to come up with different ideas to decorate them. Here’s a fantastic and fun way to tie dye Easter eggs with your little one this season. This is so simple…and easy.
You’ll need to pick up:
- A tub of whipped cream
- White vinegar
- Gel food coloring (gel works best)
- Prepare hard boiled eggs, cool and place them in a bowl.
- Cover them with white vinegar.
- Empty the tub of whipped cream onto a pie plate.
- Drop a few dots of each color you choose (for example neon pink and neon purple) over the whipped cream.
- Then, take a knife and swirl it through the whipped cream just a little.
- Dry off a few eggs and place them in the whipped cream.
- Gently fold the whipped cream over the eggs using a spatula and let sit a few minutes.
- Pull each egg out, rinse it off with water and look at what you’ve created…a beautiful tie dyed Easter egg. Pretty cool.
- You can use the leftover whipped cream as a pretty topping over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Prepare this sweet dish for breakfast this weekend…
MAPLE FRENCH TOAST
- 2 Eggs
- 2/3 Cup milk
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 Tbls cream
- 1/4 Tsp Kosher salt
- Dash of cinnamon
- In a bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the rest of the ingredients.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and melt a pat of butter.
- Dip each slice to bread in the egg mixture to coat both sides.
- Cook 2-3 minutes until golden then flip over and cook until golden.
- Melt a pat of butter over each hot slice of French Toast and finish with a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
Or how about this delicious breakfast treat…
Apple Maple Muffins
- 1/2 Cup unsalted butter
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 2 Cups chopped apples (your favorite kind)
- 1 Cup pure maple syrup
- 3 Cups all purpose flour
- 1 Tbls baking powder
- 1 Tsp salt
- 1 Tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 Tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cream the butter and eggs until fluffy
- Add the apples and maple syrup and mix well
- Sift in the dry ingredients and stir well to combine
- Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Sprinkle the muffins with a pinch of maple sugar, if desired, for a nice finish.
And for dinner tonight, make something amazing like my Maple-Glazed Salmon (click for the recipe) I know you’re gonna love it.
Did you know… about maple soap? There’s a Sugar Shack near me that sells maple soap. I’m planning to visit this weekend to see their wide variety of soaps with different scents and ingredients, all of which are made using pure maple syrup for the sugar base.
For a side dish, may I suggest… steam some baby carrots, add a bit of butter to melt over the top, add a few slivered almonds and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. This is my favorite way to prepare carrots…the taste is divine.
And dessert… drizzle a little stream of syrup over vanilla ice cream. Delicious maple candy!
So, what’s the best maple syrup we can buy?
It’s all personal preference, my friend. Maple syrup grades refer to the color, or flavor of the syrup…not quality. With that being said, in my opinion, Grade A Dark (formerly Grade B) is the best. It’s thick in richness and dark amber in color. It has strong maple flavor with caramel undertones which makes it perfect for cooking and baking.
Did you know… maple syrup is rich in antioxidants which are known to reduce skin damage from free radicals and it contains vitamins A and B, which help promote healthy skin regeneration.
With every day, enjoy spring and all it has to offer. But ask any New Englander about spring and all too often the answer will be “What spring…one day it was winter and the next week it was summer.” This runs very true…I was looking at last year’s calendar and we received over 14″ of heavy wet snow on Easter Sunday, April 1st (April Fools’ Day) and just 13 days later it was 86 degrees. And that, my friends, is why we say…”Don’t like the weather? Wait a minute.”.
What is the season of spring like in your corner of the world? I welcome your comments and thoughts below and thank you for liking and sharing.