March 27, 2013 § 14 Comments
Yesterday I hardly even thought to check to see if the sap was running. After all, it wasn’t all that warm, and there was a steady breeze out of the north, a combination that doesn’t typically bode well for a good sap run. But by 2:30, I’d had about enough of listening to myself (this is one of the strange things about writing; it’s sort of like listening to yourself talk all friggin’ day. And even I can take only so much of that), and I needed a diversion. A quiet stroll down to the maples at the far reaches of Melvin’s hayfield seemed like just the ticket.
By gum, those buckets were nearly full. In fact, a few were overflowing, and the sap was running so hard that steady rivulets of sweet water rolled down the bucket sides to drip deep melt holes into the snow below. I humped it back to the house, grabbed the sled and a trio of 5-gallon buckets, and took off back down the field at a trot. It took three trips to complete the gather, and by the end I was down to a tee shirt and feeling that wonderful skin-tightening sensation of the high sun on my winter-white arms and face. Damn but I love that feeling.
Hell, I’ll just say it: I’m fired up. And if I’m fired up, you can only imagine how Penny’s feeling. That woman is a freakin’ inferno this time of year (well, most times of year, to be honest), plotting and planning and gumming up the whole damn kitchen with flats full of soil blocks and the implements of her trade. In fact, right now, in addition to Puck, an orphan lamb with a hurt foot who follows us around in her pathetically plaintive way, our kitchen is home to a split-open 55-gallon barrel full of potting soil, myriad bags of amendments and other potions, and enough seeds to grow enough food to feed an army. Or our boys, whichever eats more (my money’s on Fin and Rye). Not only that, but she’s got a list of tasks so long that I get dizzy just looking at it. “Don’t worry,” she told me this morning, “most of them are quick.” I looked at the list and saw, among other things, “build rocket mass heater,” “build outdoor bread oven,” “build new chicken coop,” “finish sawmill roof,” “finish firewood,” and “plant terrace orchard.” Well. Thank goodness they’re all quick. What will we do with all our free time this summer?
Truth is, not all of these things will happen, or at least, not all of these things will be completed over the next six months, and probably not over the next 12 months, either. We know this, and we know it well, having now passed better than 15 years on this little patch of dirt and grass and trees (oh, and rocks… can’t forget those). But we also know well that there’s a season for everything, and this is the season for indefatigable enthusiasm, even if said enthusiasm goads us into creating an entirely unconquerable list of tasks.
The other truth is, if there ever comes a spring when we don’t feel this enthusiasm, don’t feel the small fire of it in our bellies and our bones, don’t recognize it for the amazing gift it is… well, hell. That’s when I’ll start to really worry.