Coming Real Soon

February 28, 2014 § 9 Comments


This morning I found myself stomping repeatedly on the overturned rubberized pig trough, like an oversized child throwing a tantrum, trying to dislodge the frozen remnants of last evening’s milky slop. It was hard work, lemme tell you: Over and over I jumped, stepping down every so often so I could snatch up the bowl with my hands and thwack it against the ground, and by the time I had the trough cleaned out and the new piglets were snout deep in breakfast, I was sweating good and proper. Not a bad feeling, really, to be sweating in below-zero weather. If nothing else, it’s a symptom of proper labor, and I’ve always felt that proper labor is, in-and-of-itself, a symptom of proper living. Or it is for me, anyway.

I cannot recall a winter of such consistent cold. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of below-zero mornings we’ve had over just the past three months surpasses the number of below-zero mornings over the previous three years combined, and it looks as though there are still a few more to come. “Cold enough, huh?” said Jimmy when I picked up two full buckets of waste milk this morning, and I had to agree. It’s cold enough.

With the exception of that one memorable day, I have not minded the cold. This is not to say I do not welcome the impending arrival of warmer days, only that I know my appreciation of these days does not stand on its own. It demands that I endure something, and in that sense, the enduring itself becomes part of the anticipation of that first 50-degree in March, when the sun will be high and almost harsh, and the sap in the trees will awaken, plinking drop by drop into the buckets we hung the day before. I thought about that this morning, when I was bopping up and down on that confounded pig trough. Sugaring. Hauling sap. More sweat. Proper living.

The boys, however, aren’t down with enduring. Over the past couple weeks, their enthusiasm for winter and all its charms has steadily deflated. They still go outside every day, usually on snowshoes down into the woods to track one hapless creature or another, but they return home sooner than they used to, and have taken to spending long hours indoors reading and swinging (does not everyone have a rope swing hanging in their living room? No? Well, they should. Heck, even Penny and I like to see if we can kiss the ceiling with our feet) and wrestling. This is all fine and dandy until their energy becomes too big for the house and things invariably devolve into an argument of some sort or another, often triggered by an act of treachery that from the hot center of the conflict cannot even be recalled.

Ah, well. So be it. They are children, after all. To them, the immediate is everything. They cannot understand how quickly things change, how soon it will be spring and sap will be running and the snow will be melting and we’ll be trudging across the field pulling 120-pounds of sap – enough to make maybe three pints of syrup – in a sled back from Melvin’s big maples. They can’t grasp that someday, they’ll not wish for time to accelerate, but would instead give just about anything if only it’d slow down for a bit, even if that meant another week or two of below-zero mornings. Another week or two of stomping the pig trough until sweat beaded on their brows.

They can’t fathom these changes, both those external and those internal. But they’re coming. They’re coming real soon.

§ 9 Responses to Coming Real Soon

  • vpfarming says:

    Around here I’m the guy who gets that same ice-stomping job (and we’ve had a record amount of it this winter too). Not sure what all the fuss is about. I am 6’6″/290 lbs. and hardly break a sweat!

  • Eumaeus says:

    “symptoms of proper living”, I like that. Wish there was a list. I could diagnose myself. Sure I show some of them symptoms…

  • Eumaeus says:

    oh and can i request a picture of you ‘kissing the ceiling’ please… do you say ‘excuse me’ beforehand, like jimmie hendrix?

  • pmpayette says:

    It is wicked cold here in Saskatchewan too. They say this has been the coldest winter in 15 years. Makes the global warming theory a little hard to swallow. And tomorrow, predicting windchills of -57C. Actual overnight temperature for tonight is -40C. The cold weather will make the warm days all the sweeter. I tell you, though, I would rather have -30C than plus 30C any day of the week.

  • Michael says:

    “…anticipation of that first 50-degree in March…”
    The eternal optimist.

  • Val says:

    Good reminder to never wish the current season away too quickly. This said while looking at the fact that that old wood shed is getting scary low and the stove is inhaling wood…April better be warm!

  • NeoNoah says:

    Remember Ben, instead of bouncing on that pig trough, for fifty bucks or so a month you could be at the health spa riding a stationary bike to nowhere———naahhh!!!
    And, yes I know, anything stationary goes nowhere.

  • hilthethrill says:

    Even though our lifestyle is more store bought, our kids are at the same emotional spot…less interested in going outside, a bit ornery, a bit too much for inside the house. Today, we thawed, though. I feel like thaw is type of weather, isn’t it? Rain, snow, thaw, sun?

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