March 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
Men down! And by “men” I mean milk jugs that are supposed to be attached to maple trees.
This afternoon I bundled up and headed out to see if the sap was running. There was no longer ice on the driveway pavement; the dirt road leading to my parents’ house was a rich, brown, sticky mud. The weather was twice as nice as I had anticipated so I took my gloves off and placed them into the hood of my jacket (that was hanging down my back). I kept the knit hat on my head because of bad hair and vowed to work quick so as not to pass out into the snow bank from heat stroke (seriously, spring is just that weird up here). Shortly after heading down the driveway I regretted the snow shoes – mud was splattering up the legs of my denim snow pants and turning the tan fur cuffs on my boots brown.
The snow reminded me of a giant, melting slushy as I climbed atop it. The milk jugs were barely a quarter full, but I committed myself to one section of the forest so as not to make waste of my trek and the large, white bucket in my hand. My heart broke a little as I saw more than a dozen jugs lying in the snow, the south spring wind had knocked them off of their trees, and the metal spouts were dripping the precious sap into the snow below. I reattached those that got tossed in the wind, causing me to get off course from my pre-planned route. I was excited by each jug still attached to its tree, and I gently pulled them off and poured the sap into the white bucket. The bucket quickly became heavy and hard to hold as I climbed up and down the mounds of slushy snow. I carefully did my best to not let a single drop splash over the edge. By the time I finished the small section of forest the sap was just inches away from the top of the bucket.
Once out of the snow and back onto the muddy driveway I realized the bucket was nearly too heavy for my sore back to carry. But this was spring, and I could not wimp out now! So I slipped off my snow shoes, leaving them in the snow bank, and walked as fast I could with the heavy bucket. I made it successfully to the wood shed where the sap would eventually be turned into glorious syrup, then went back for my snow shoes. In the house I gladly tore off my down jacket, sweater, and snow pants (leaving on the hat), still surprised by the early spring.
It has been a while since I have seen a good spring. In this part of the U.S. spring is a beloved season. The snow quickly melts with a few warm days; the earth below changing from dead to green with a couple good rains. Thunderstorms are divine with no signs of tornadoes – only life and energy. The birds sing extra loud, the deer celebrate as they can wander without their thin legs having to tromp through heavy snow, and the bugs are not yet making their rounds giving us free range of the warm outdoors. The air always smells the best in the spring as if the lake is sending out an advertisement, beckoning us to come and sit at its shore. And it is for these things I brave mud, and sweat beneath my winter wear, and believe that great things are about to come my way.