Winter. Ugh. Tea, syrup, and sunsets. Good.

Winter is not my favorite season, not even close. The kids were supposed to go back to school last Tuesday after their “winter” break. They went a total of one day. So far, this week is starting off with a bang, too. There’s a two-hour delay this morning, because we had freezing rain for most of the night. I looked outside, and it looks like about a half-inch of solid ice coating everything. I doubt that’s going to melt anytime soon. I’m surprised that we still have electricity and internet. I suspect that the end result will be a call in an hour or so canceling the remainder of the day as well. Yippee. Hallelujah. Where’s the Tylenol?

There are very few things that I like about winter. Fires in the fireplace are nice, but you can’t have one when it’s in the single digits, because then you’re just sending your expensive heat up the chimney, for the most part. Sunrises and sunsets can be extraordinary, especially here in the flatlands with no hills to block out the view. I love a brilliant red sunset with bare tree branches silhouetted in the distance. Red sunrises, if you believe the old sailor’s warning, can spell trouble later in the day (like yesterday), but they make the sky look as if it’s on fire. That’s something wonderful to watch while you drink your morning coffee.

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Sunset

Since we, mostly David, started producing maple syrup three years ago, that has become one of my favorite things about winter. We had been buying syrup from local producers in the adjoining county, which has an abundance of maple trees, but when David retired and was looking for a project, a friend who was visiting from Michigan suggested he try making syrup. Being an engineer by profession, he researched and designed and planned the heck out of his new hobby. A good strategy, of course, and it has paid off very well. His first year was the learning year, but he still managed to make quite a lot and sell a lot at the local farmer’s market. Last year, he designed a reverse osmosis system to remove about 50% of the water to speed up the evaporation process. He made 17 gallons of beautiful amber liquid gold, even though it was a short season. Ironically, he couldn’t sell it at the market, because there was no time due to the moving, so we had a LOT to give away to friends and family, and for our own use. We use it to sweeten pretty much everything that doesn’t require sugar for structure, such as cookies.

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The made in the USA evaporator doing its work.

Probably my favorite thing about winter is tea. I love hot tea, all kinds. I can’t really drink it in the summer, because it makes me break out in a sweat. Coffee doesn’t, but hot tea does. I don’t know why.

Black tea (Lipton’s is the best), rooibos, herbal, fruity blends, cinnamon-y ones. Coffee is my wake-up call. I set the pot to be ready in the morning, so when I head down the stairs, I can smell it wafting up to me, calling my name. But tea saves me from killing people who are stuck inside because of bad weather. I can drink it all day long.

My favorites right now include loose teas that I bought from Tea Forte´. African Solstice, English Breakfast, and Earl Grey, which is amazing. If you’ve never used loose Earl Grey, you haven’t really experienced it.  I also love their cute individual tea pyramids. I bought their Kati brewing system, the one with the birds. It doesn’t have a handle, but it’s double-walled, so the tea stays hot longer. Tazo faves are Zen and organic baked cinnamon apple. Then there’s Yogi Detox and Stress Relief. Good Earth Sweet and Spicy. Lemon and Raspberry Zingers and Sleepytime from Celestial Seasonings. Yep, there’s a whole cabinet shelf dedicated to tea. It’s my winter blahs therapy.

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Sunrise, Butler County

BTW, they just called to say school is canceled.

See you soon,

Susan

Addendum: I should really reread my previous posts, as I duplicated some maple syrup talk in this one. Oh well. It’s good stuff and bears repeating. 🙂