When my siblings come to Squabetty each year, it’s a time of intensity – projects we have been talking about and planning since the previous year, nurtured over the colorful days of autumn and the cold winds of winter, become reality. We work hard and long, taking care to honor the integrity of the old place, yet adding fun twists to the modern lives we live. The hard projects are cutting into the stone barn foundation to make a ramp for equipment or remaking an old sliding door, using the turn of the century parts and calculating how to make it work with the unevenness of the multi -century old building. Perhaps it’s digging out the old well to make it deeper or crawling under the barn, jacking it up to remove rotting wood footings and pouring new concrete ones. And then there are the fun projects – adding a maple tap spigot and valve to an old shower head above the sauna rocks, or creating a whimsical sign post to places near and far. Regardless of the various projects underway each day, time at the old homestead allows us, as an extended family, to be together. For us, that’s one of the special qualities of Squabetty – it brings us together – the east coasters and west coasters – for a very, very cherished time, each year.
Runamok Maple, the company which taps the trees on Squabetty land, has created a new flavor- ginger root infused maple syrup, which is delicious. We are fortunate to have plenty of maple syrup, but this infused sweet stuff is special – it would be delectable in a chicken dish, and enhance a cocktail such as a Dark and Stormy or Moscow Mule. My squash soup in the autumn will be extra delicious, infused with this new gem. Furthermore, pancakes and French toast taste better - if that's even possible. Okay, I do love ginger flavor. When infused maple syrups first came out, I considered them for someone else, but not me. I couldn’t understand how one could stray from good old pure maple syrup. But this ginger infused sweet stuff is changing my thinking. While I drink my coffee with a touch of maple syrup, I’m still not inclined to try the ginger infused in that! Not yet anyways.
One of the most rewarding parts of readying Squabetty for guests is making little vases of flowers to spread around the house. I prefer wild flowers, but supplement from my cutting garden, perennials and wild flowers around my house. As the neighbors are readying for work in the morning, I’m wandering around in my mud boots, searching for blooms. Maybe you’ll see someone driving slowly along dirt roads here in the north country, looking out along the roadsides. It might be me. I know which roads are likely to have Joe Pye Weed, loosestrife (yes, invasive), and steeple bush. In my glove box I keep scissors, not for self-protection, but just in case I see something lovely along the roadside. I love these summer and autumn flower drives – I never know what I’ll find – and it’s luxuriously lazy. I feel like what we used to call old fogies out on a Sunday drive. Once I gather loads of flowers, I set them out in vases – antique bottles, tiny vases that have been in the family for generations and new bottles I like. And when there’s too many flowers, I make myself a bouquet and bring it home – a little present to myself.