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WEATHER U: The moon and the magic of spring

Last week's "full sap moon" didn't make the sap flow, but a favourable temperature trend did.  Angela Thom's son Alex was busy tapping trees in their sugar bush in Lower Greenwich, N.B.,  on the first day of spring!
Last week's "full sap moon" didn't make the sap flow, but a favourable temperature trend did. Angela Thom's son Alex was busy tapping trees in their sugar bush in Lower Greenwich, N.B., on the first day of spring! - Contributed

One week ago today, we bid farewell to winter and welcomed in the new season. That alone is exciting, but this year was special – the vernal equinox was greeted by a lovely full moon. The full moon in March carries a few names, but on the farm, we knew it as the “full sap moon.”

As is often the case, the full moons are named after something that is taking place at the time. For example, the full moon in June is called the “strawberry moon.”

In this part of the world the spring of the year “eventually” brings cold nights and warmer days. This change in temperature causes the maple sap to flow up and down the tree trunk allowing maple producers to harvest the sap and then boil it down into lovely golden maple syrup. By the way, this is the same cycle that causes our roads to be filled with pot holes – but, I digress.

So, the full moon in March does not make the sap flow, but March is usually when the sap does rise.

It’s been a cool month, so the season is a little late starting. The syrup season can last two months, but the sap doesn’t usually run every day. The sap will only run if temperature drops below freezing at night and warms to above freezing during the day. That means the season is very dependent on your actual location.

I mentioned the “full sap moon” during my weather presentation one day last week and Alicia dropped me a line to say that her Ojibwa grandfather counted the full moons and believed that the sap didn’t really start to flow before the fourth moon of the year. He called it the “zhkigamisegi Geezis – the boiling moon." This year, the fourth moon falls on April 19.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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