Home to Bed

Yellowfoot (aka “winter”) chanterelles

If you climb far enough into our woods (and you don’t have to climb very far), you’ll find that the softwoods give way to their deciduous cousins. Soon you are surrounded by sugar maples, interspersed with  yellow birch and the odd black cherry, the occasional white ash, the infrequent beech. But still. Mostly sugar maple, the leaves now gone to shades of orange. Come spring a guy could tap them all, have himself a little sugaring business, stay up nights boiling, maybe pay the property taxes on the profit.

Last year, we put out about 40 taps. We didn’t pay the property taxes in syrup. We didn’t pay much of anything in syrup, for that matter.

I like to walk up past the imprecise divide between the spruce and the maple, where the forest opens wide, and I find ledge-y outcroppings good for sitting a spell and pondering the ways of the world. Or if not the ways of the world, then the ways of humankind. Because let’s be honest: The ways of the word are long sight beyond my pay grade. So too the ways of humankind, come to think of it. But that don’t stop me from trying.

Anyway. These are the places for the big thoughts – the many variants of love, for instance, or the impermanence of most anything, or the responsibilities of parenthood, or what constitutes compassion, or whether or not Blackberry Smoke’s new offering is as good as their last (fuck yeah, it is. Better, maybe. Check it).

And they’re a good place for the small questions, too, like will the goddamned calf we’re weaning ever shut the eff up, or should I buy new snow tires for the car or go my usual used route and then regret it later, or did I have enough diesel in the tractor to spend all of tomorrow in the woods, or will we get siding on the house before snowfall? Yeah, well. Probably not. Maybe next year.

And sometimes those ledge-y outcroppings are just a good place to sit a spell and think as little as possible, until the rock is too hard and too cold against your inadequate ass, and the sun is too low in the sky, and so you walk back down the hill, back under the evershadows of the evergreens, past the remaining pig, lonely and large, down the tractor road. Nothing determined, nothing affirmed. Nothing more than home to family. Home to bed.



13 thoughts on “Home to Bed”

  1. You know some people think that God is in the sky, but I came to believe that God is in the woods. We had been away from Vermont for a few days and I already miss it. Miss those red-headed fuzzy maples. Miss those yellowfeet, and cows crossing roads, rivers and waterfalls and small roads with maple syrup sellers at the sides….
    I liked this writing. You live in a magical place where the land itself whispers peace.

  2. Just the way it is . . . expressed in terms that make you FEEL a part of the landscape. What a royal treat! THANKS!!

  3. I had no idea that those yellow chanterelles grow in America – and I used to live in Vermont! I earned to love them when I lived in Sweden and Finland, where chanterelles are considered an even greater delicacy than morels. thanks for the memories!

    1. My five year old found them in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, although visually they look slightly different to me, perhaps a different subspecies from the European ones. We picked tons of them in Lithuania this summer, they are the first mushrooms to show up and do not get wormy. My favorite for their flavor smell and texture. Every restaurant over there serves some dishes with chantrelles. Best fried in butter with cream and fresh potatoes. 🙂 They are also used medicinally for anti-parasitic properties. They are so valued they get overpicked in Lithuania for export. If you drive through the country between July and October, you will see people standing on the sides of roads with baskets selling chantrelles.

  4. Interesting, cause for the most part around here softwoods seem to grow at higher elevations than hardwoods. Lots of local conditions, of course. What species softwoods are you talking about?

    1. mostly spruce and fir, though we have a few really nice cedar stands, too. Very little pine or hemlock.


  5. Moss and mushroom forests are where I wish I could be. So crazy, we were just informed that there are high levels of arsenic and lead in the soil on the north end of the city. The contrast blows my mind when I see pictures of untouched Earth like you posted. I’m not meant for city life….I’m meant for mushrooms and moss damnit. My ex husband is buddies with Blackberry Smoke…probably why I can’t bring myself to listen to them, which makes no damn sense. Self preservation!

  6. The pictures that you paint with words take me back to my childhood in west-central New Hampshire and make me nostalgic for autumn in New England! One of my favorite, but not very productive, deer stands was situated at the intersection of two old stone wall far out in the hardwoods that some long-dead farmer built when he was clearing fields a couple centuries ago.

  7. I do not comment much anymore Ben, but I still read everything you write, that i can find. It is comforting to know that others share a similar view on life, and can express it in their writings.
    Just a note to say I still think your wicked awesome!

    Are ya still running?

    1. Thanks Mick. Good to hear from ya.

      Still running. Not super regularly during the rush of fall doin’s, but enough to keep my head straight.


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