Springtime spirit

By Inge Schaefer

O.K., so the daffodils, crocus, and tulips have not yet broken through the frozen ground, and the temperatures remain colder than normal for this time of year — these are minor points, my friends. It’s spring! We will have to take our hope in the singing of the birds who are busily preparing their nests and in the showing of some brown lawn, albeit surrounded by ice and snow.

Now, I write this on Monday, March 23. Who knows, by the time you read this column flowers may be blooming in your garden; you may have hauled out a lawn chair to sit in the sun, and it’s a toasty, sunny 65 degrees. That, too, my friends, is spring in Vermont. So, let’s be optimistic and take a look at what is waiting for us this spring in our beloved Colchester.

There is no better indicator of spring than the running of maple syrup. Well, maybe the dripping of syrup is closer to the truth this year. Valerie Schroeder of Poor Farm Sugar Works on Poor Farm Road confirms that the syrup is running late this year. No surprise given the temperatures, but she’s hoping that during this week the weather will improve and allow them to have plenty of new syrup for this coming weekend, which is Maple Sugar Open House in Vermont. Don and Val welcome you on Saturday and Sunday from 11-4 p.m, to enjoy sugar on snow, syrup tasting and a look at the syrup making process in the sugar house that they built themselves. Check them out on their Facebook page under Poor Farm Sugar Works. It’s where I get my syrup and, oh my, it is so good.

Colchester also has its own winery that opens March 28 this year. Hillis Sugarbush Farm and Vineyard, located on Sugarbush Farm Road on the way to the Islands, began operation in 1987 when they offered lamb, wool, beef, pork, poultry and maple syrup products. In 2000 they opened a new sugar house and in 2009 were licensed as a winery offering such selections as Red Maple, a dessert wine; Sugarhouse White, a dry Riesling; Pinot Gris, also a dry, crisp wine, and Candy Apple, which is a combo of apples and maple and served as a dessert wine. They are also sugaring and will be offering tastings (wine and syrup – yum!) this Maple Sugar Open House weekend, on Saturday and Sunday from 12-5 p.m. You will be delighted to meet Jim and Judy Hillis. Check out their website: www.hillisfarm.com.

Beginning Wednesday, June 10, from 4-7 p.m., on the Burnham Library Green, Colchester’s 4th Annual Farmers’ Market takes place. It will run every Wednesday through Aug. 26 and features local farmers, artisans, and food vendors. New and old vendors are welcome to participate. For an application or more information, e-mail colchesterfarmersmarket@gmail.com or check the website at colchesterfarmersmarket.wordpress.com. You can also call the library at 264-5660.

In particular, the market looks for Vermont-grown fresh produce and agricultural products that may include veggies, flowers, herbs, fruit, meat, plants, maple syrup, honey and eggs. Prepared foods and baked goods are welcome, along with agricultural “value-added” products such as yarn, wool, jams, pickles, etc., and high quality, locally produced crafts/art.

As a volunteer with the Colchester Historical Society who has a table at the market with Colchester books and Historical Society information, I have spent some time at the market and just love it. There is usually music with good, mostly local musicians, playing or singing their hearts out at no charge to those visiting the market. Folks seem to enjoy chit-chatting with vendors or neighbors they haven’t seen all winter, kids run around or stop into the library for a new book and, were that not enough, the products being sold are top notch at reasonable prices. It’s just plain fun. Mark your Wednesdays until the end of summer and we’ll see you there.

Green Up Day always falls on the first Saturday in May, which this year is May 2. Colchester Conservation Commission members orchestrate this event that generally runs from 8 a.m. until noon at the police building. The members are also planning a rain barrel discussion that explains the virtues and dynamics of setting up a rain barrel at your home to recycle rain water. More details to follow. These hard-working volunteers also started Colchester Blooms, a program of planting flowers around town to further beautify our beloved community. If you wish to support this effort with a donation that helps maintain the flowers all summer, make out your check to the Colchester-Milton Rotary Club, and mail to Colchester Blooms, c/o Mother Nature’s Helper, Inc., 162 Jimmo Drive, Suite 2, Colchester 05446. Let’s hear it for CCC members Lisa Halvorsen, Theresa Carroll, Pamela Loranger, Tim Moran, Lisa Liotta, Robin Orr and Patrick Volz.

The Colchester Historical Society and the Burnham Memorial Library will sponsor an event beginning at 7 p.m., on April 13, at the Library on Main Street. Called “The Eddy Family of Spirit Mediums,” the featured speaker will be Jason Smiley. Smiley’s two-hour presentation on the Eddy family’s life and times in the mid-1800s in Chittenden, Vt., gave rise to the saying that Chittenden was the “Spirit Capital of the Universe.” You’ll want to catch this talk, which is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more info, contact Suzanne Furst at 658-3706.

You have by now received the summer parks and recreation brochure – if not, contact them at 264-5640, or check out their website: www.colchestervt.gov/recreation/parks. Of interest might be the upcoming Easter Egg Hunt, April 4, 10 a.m., at Bayside Park. In coordination with the Lions Club, you are asked to bring along at least one non-perishable or canned item per participant to benefit the Colchester Community Food Shelf. On May 2, 9-11 a.m., the 8th Annual “Touch a Truck” will be held at the high school. These events are free and open to the public. The Parks and Rec Department also has a slew of classes and other special events taking place throughout the summer, so do check it out.

Local Motion will again run a bike ferry from Colchester to South Hero on the Causeway (called the Island Line Trail), located off Colchester Point Road. Beginning May 22, operation will be on Fri-Sun and holidays, until June 12, when it will run daily from 10-6 p.m. On Sept. 11 it will go back to weekends and holidays until Oct. 13. There is a crossing charge. For more information, call 652-2453, or go to www.localmotion.org/ferry. Last year the boat carried 12,000 riders! No wonder — this is one of the most scenic spots anywhere.

On your way, stop by the Old Schoolhouse at Airport Park, which opens June 5, from 11-3 p.m. (Fri-Mon). It is also a treat to explore. Volunteers are always needed to keep the doors open, so call Carol Reichard if you have any amount of time to give at 878-0014.

Are there other spring events you want folks to know about? Write me at ingevt@comcast.net. Enjoy spring and God bless!