The calendar says it is April, the lilacs are beginning to leaf out, the apple buds are swelling and our daffodils are in bloom. There are other signs of spring; Down River Ice Cream is has reopened, Periwinkle in Essex is open again and we’re getting flyers and emails telling us what shows are coming to the Gloucester Stage Company this summer. So why did I wake up this morning to winter?
It reminds me of April 1, 1997 when I wakened to find the snow on my street was three feet deep. I needed to be at the hospital to relieve the night nurse. it was impossible to walk so I skied to the bus stop only to find no buses were running. Maybe I should be happy that there are only a couple of inches today.

The orchard will be opening on the first of May. Devan has been busy in the greenhouse getting the tomatoes in and preparing to plant for early crops. Bosie and the guys will arrive in a couple of weeks to begin work in the orchard. Vanessa and Courtney are helping to get the store in order for opening an Jason is taking inventory of the winery and planning what will be needed for this year. All these activities mean spring at Russell Orchards.

Not especially a spring activity but I’ve been making granola. It’s my variation of a recipe I found online. Everyone who has eaten any has raved about it so I pass it on here.

Yummy Granola

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups nuts and/or seeds (I’ve used walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds usually two or three different kinds)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup vegetable or olive oil (I use grape seed oil)
½ cup maple syrup (honey can be used but I like maple best)
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Optional mix-ins: dried cranberries, raisins, finely chopped apricots or chocolate chips

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large, rimmed baking sheet* with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts and/or seeds, salt and cinnamon. Stir to blend.
2. Mix the oil, maple syrup (or honey) and vanilla together. Pour over oats, mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and spread it in an even layer. Bake about 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut flakes and return to the oven until golden, another 15 minutes or so. Watch carefully that it doesn’t start to burn. The granola will crisp up as it cools.
3. Let the granola cool completely, Stir in the dried fruit and/or chocolate chips if using them. Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks. It can also be frozen.

*I use a half-sheet pan, 18″x13″. A smaller pan would need longer baking time or two smaller pans might need less baking times. Watch closely.