To wish the last day of meteorological winter good-bye, this afternoon I drove by one of the two sugarbushes nearby. There were no buckets hanging yet. Last year the taps were in and the buckets hanging by the third week in March so there's time to get it done yet this year. Everything should be in place by the time we get to days above freezing and nights below 32F. The extended forecast offers hope of that in a couple of weeks. I haven't ever tapped a tree, but I've hand drilled holes and driven nails. I'd guess no more than 10 minutes a tree, six trees and hour. That would make what was there last year appear to be less than half a days work for one person. What do you think?
sugarbush in March
Photo by J. Harrington
It felt good to be back in a part of the county I haven't visited for several months. The country was pretty much as I'd left it including a few cornfields still standing unpicked. We'll try to work in at least weekly trips to see if sap gets gathered this year.
The Forest at the Edge of the World
Today I left groceries by the playground on Hudsonand tried to haul, up toward my block,a cross section of a maple grown too large,chainsawed into manhole covers. Alphonso,Super for All Buildings east of the projects,stopped sweeping. He leaned his bald broomagainst the stoop, nudged the wood with his toe.“Nothing to do but roll it,” he said, handsdeep in his pockets. I nodded,barely believing my luck in the midst of asphalt,transistor radios, and the wet smell of dogsas he squatted eye level with the log, heaved itagainst his shoulder like a man who bearsa handmade cross for miles on his pentitent back.I saw a kind of glory in his eyes, he understoodthe heft of the trunk, nicks in the damp bark.I stood on the side and righted the thingand together we rolled this boulder of treepast the Indian deli, the Russian shoe repair,the Caribbean bakery. “You can smell the forest,”he said, as we reached my stoop, woodin the crook of his neck, sawdust and humus and sweat.And we hoisted the thing, one step at a time, stoppingonly to breathe the scent of sap and after a good half hourit was filling the whole of my apartment—the shade, the damp smell, that enormous presence—light brown rings so perfect my whole lifefell right down inside them, concentric circles,tree within tree, the single slab a world within itself—suddenly it was thirty-five years ago:I stood on the edge of a forest, someplace upstate,and looked up into the branches of my firsttrue and majestic tree, in the first real forest—treesinstead of buildings. Oh the breadth of those limbs—after the taut geometry of elevator, fire escape, lobby,to see through branches to the sun—I believedthe world was mine, there was sap in my veins,the tree was limitless, the scent of the tree,the bark and the branch and the six-year-old sightline,which goes on to the edge of the known world.
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.