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Maple producers undaunted by snow, ice

THURMAN -The maple sap wasn't flowing this weekend as fast as the river was rising - due to ice jams - but the annual rite of spring in the lower Adirondacks went forward with good crowds and plenty of maple syrup.

Thurman Maple Days kicked off on Saturday, March 12, the first of three weekends celebrating spring's sweet gift. Usually the weather offers freezing nights and warming days in March, prompting plenty of sap to flow from the sugar maple trees.

Although this year's lingering winter reduced the sap flow, Thurman's sugar houses were busy regardless.

When visitors came calling to the half-dozen local maple operations holding open houses over the weekend, they received a friendly welcome, talks, tours, and some demonstrations. These venues included Adirondack Gold Maple Farm, Toad Hill Maple Farm and Valley Road Maple Farm as well. And there were pancakes. Mike Hill of Valley Road of the latter sugaring outfit said they flipped flapjacks for 100 people on Saturday and again on Sunday.

At Martin's Lumber, sap was not an issue, but Saturday morning the sawmill chose not to start. Nevertheless, guests - many who were returning after visits in previous years - were warmly welcomed and enjoyed visits, chatting about displays of handsomely grained slabs of wood. Some visited Wini Martin's craft room and participated in demonstrations of paper bead winding and the making of stained glass stepping stones.

The Thurman Town Hall was buzzing on Saturday, as volunteers led by Evelyn Wood and Becky Hitchcock prepared a buffet for the annual Jack Wax Maple Sugar Party, attended by 168 people, helping to raise a total of over $1600.

The weekend ended with excitement, as the ice jam on the Hudson broke and began moving toward Thurman Station bridge, just as the last maple revelers were heading out of town. The high waters are now receding and temperatures are rising. Maple producers expect a busy week of boiling, and all sites will throw open their doors to guests again next weekend, participating in New York State Maple Weekends the last two weekends of March.

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