On the lower slopes of the Green Mountains, the snow was almost gone. As the dazzling sun shone through the sugar bushes (maple groves), it glinted on some 3,000,000 tin buckets hanging on the grey trees. This week, as the weather turned warm, the groves tinkled with the "plunk plunkplunk plunkplink" of maple sap dropping into the buckets. "Dollars droppin'," Vermonters said, as they paused to listen. It was sugaring time.

As Vermont farmers harvested their great cash crop, they were characteristically gloomy about its size and the weather. (A good run...

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