April 8, 2013 § 4 Comments
Both mornings this weekend I was down the field gathering sap well before breakfast was on the table. The snow has disappeared from all but the north facing hollows, so I took the garden cart down Melvin’s field, with a quartet of empty five-gallon buckets rattling about in its hold. In a cruel twist of fate, the majority of the premium maples in regards to girth, health, and the sugar content of their sap reside at a lower elevation than the house, which means of course that I descend with empty buckets and ascend with full ones.
Four full buckets – 20 gallons of sap – is at the outer limit of what I can do, and if one were to happen upon me at the steepest pitch along my journey home, I could forgive whatever humor they might find in the scene. I know how absurd I must look leaning into the hill and dragging that damnable cart behind me with all my might (which is none too much), progress measured one measly half-step at a time, and each one requiring a desperate sort of forward lunging motion, lest the loaded cart gain the upper hand and drag me backwards, my hard fought progress disappearing before my eyes. I cannot confirm or deny that this has ever happened.
Sunday morning’s gather was particularly memorable, if only because the night before Fin and I had stayed out until the wee hours, taking in a Waylon Speed concert at a local (or what passes for local, being only 30 min away) pizza joint/watering hole. Yes, it is true: I am the sort of father who allows his 11-year-old son to accompany him to raucous rock n’ roll shows at venues where drunken adults can be seen making asses of themselves. But Fin and I share a weakness for hard rock (and particularly for WS, which is one of those gem of a bands that should be way more famous than they are), and the boy is guitar player and, well… you can see how such an adventure would be, er, educational, right? I did point out to Fin that he was the only child in attendance, the subtext of which was suggest what a completely awesome father I am, and therefore deserving of his utmost gratitude and affection. He didn’t seem to pick up on it.
So yeah, on Sunday I was moving a little slow at first. But the first trip got my blood flowing and by the second trip sweat had risen on my brow, and by the time I’d gathered from the little sugarbush above our pond it was nearly 7 and I’d almost forgotten the paucity of sleep. I felt invigorated and tough, if not unconquerable (rock n’ roll all night and work my ass off every day and all that), and I spent the rest of the day ripping into a variety of rural pursuits, a sort of small farm Olympics: I boiled sap, bucked and split firewood, worked on the tractor, and made myself a list of lumber for the next time I get the sawmill fired up. I did chores morning and evening, bottle fed the orphan lamb, and cleaned up a bunch of brush from one of last autumn’s chainsaw adventures. I made lunch and mixed up a batch of sourdough bread to sit overnight. I took a run to the freezer at Melvin’s and extracted four quarts of cream, a quart of lard, two T-bone steaks, two pounds of fennel sausage, a pound of bacon, and something else I can’t remember, but which was probably comprised of either the milk or meat of one of our animals. Or blueberries. It might have been blueberries. I went to Jimmy and Sara’s and picked up colostrum for the pigs.
Overall, it was an enormously productive day, fueled at least in part by memories of the evening before, me and my boy sharing a fruit spritzer and watching drunks dance to one of our favorite bands four hours past his bedtime.
Good music, time with my son, and hard work: It is possible that life is sometimes no more or less complicated than that? Yeah, I think it is.