If you have a sweet tooth, a cold February can be a boon. At least two weeks of freezing nights are needed for our maples to produce a good flow of late-winter sap, the source of America’s oldest breakfast condiment. A warm month can make the sap tappers nervous.

And there are plenty of maple harvesters around: little Connecticut ranks in the top 10 in the United States in its maple syrup production — some 19,000 gallons annually.

Scientists have found that this sweetener is actually good for you. A single teaspoon contains nearly a quarter of your daily need of manganese plus a good dose of zinc to boot. Both minerals are important ingredients in the body’s antioxidant defenses.

So our maples not only provide shade, oxygen, sweet treats, and terrific fall colors, they also contribute to our good health. —J.S.