The first frost greeted me with the sunrise. The creek valley seemed to meet the chilly air with quiet calm, but I was not quite so tranquil. The morning air felt downright cold. I dug my hands deep inside my jean pockets as I pottered about the cabin waiting for the coffee water to come to a boil.

For some reason I have come to realize that we wait, and wait, and then wait some more, before we light the first fire of the season. Perhaps it is because we hesitate to let go of that last of the warm weather feeling. A fire burning bright in the woodstove certainly signals that it is cold outside. Or perhaps it is because we hesitate to start working our way through the wood pile.

We have learned that we never really know how long the winter weather will last or how long it will be before the wood pile has dwindled away to nothing. Or perhaps because we have found pride in making it all the way through the winter on one match. We smile to fire up the woodstove, simply add logs once in the morning and again in the evening and step back and watch as the coal bed ignites the wood into warming flames. We have had several one-match winters at the creek. And so the season’s first frost did not prompt us to light our first fire. My hands stayed warm in my pockets until the coffee water came to a boil. I savored the aroma as I poured the steaming water over the coffee grounds and then watched through the glass as fresh coffee dripped into the carafe below.

I stepped back and picked up my phone to scroll through the most recent social media posts as I waited. There at the top of my list was a photo from a dear coffee-loving friend. She had posted a photo of a steaming cup of morning coffee looking quite delicious in front of beautiful yellow maple leaves, and it struck me. I had never tried it before, but why not? I could sweeten my morning coffee with maple syrup, our very own creek valley maple syrup, from our very own creek valley sugar bush.

I put down my phone and got the jar of maple syrup out of the fridge. I held it up to the early morning light that was just beginning to stream in through the kitchen windows. Its golden amber glow shone warmly through the glass, already spreading what I imagined as wishful warmth.

I pulled a spoon out of the drawer beside the sink and scooped out some of the sweet amber liquid. I set it in the bottom of my favorite coffee mug. I removed the filter from the top of my glass coffee carafe and poured the magic dark fluid over the syrup spoon. I set the carafe down and swirled the spoon around the bottom of my cup. The tinkling of the spoon on the sides of my ceramic cup reminded me of my wind chimes. I lifted the steaming liquid to my lips and took a sip. Oh my! The gentle taste of the maple syrup subtly underlay the familiar taste of my morning brew. It was sublime.

And so, I am pleased to share that in my older years, it looks as though I am not yet too set in my ways, and I am still able to imagine something new and give it a try. Perhaps you have already sweetened your coffee with maple syrup, but if not, I highly recommend that you too give it a try, with a warm smile.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.