Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sugaring time

The full moon in March brought several treats to our little corner of Vermont. First, it was sugaring season. The sap was flowing in the Maples, yes even our maples in the backyard produce the lovely clear sap that, when boiled down, becomes an amber elixir.

Mark, our neighbor in the back, taps the trees and boils the sugar. This takes several days of tending a fire. It's a time to sit, to reflect on life and the coming spring. Friends come to sit and chat as the sap bubbles in the evaporation pan and the wood fire crackles beneath it. Occasionally he scoops out a cup of the still watery syrup and passes it around. Amelia and Iain LOVE the sweet earthy flavor. I like the sitting. I like the talking about plans, about what to plant in the spring, about how to keep the deer from eating the fruit tree saplings Mark's planted, but mostly I like the quiet sitting and tending the fire. It has about it what I imagine attracts people to fishing. It's a license to sit and do nothing and have it valued as 'something.' I know that I've been enculturated in such a way that I feel a bit guilty about 'just' sitting, but if I can call it "fishing" or "sugaring" then it's okay. Sugaring time is an officially sanctioned time of meditation.

On top of the sugaring Mark also got a deer and invited us up for a meal of deer tenderloin. It was a lovely evening of amazing food, good conversation and entertainment provided by Iain, Amelia and Lucia as they ran back and forth with new costumes or as new animals whose identity we had to guess by what sounds they made. Despite being a technophile who likes staying wired wirelessly I appreciate these sorts of times -- in touch with friends and the rhythms of nature. Enjoying the most basic elements. It's good to have a naturalist as a neighbor! And like my appreciation for Spring that is so influenced by having survived the winter, my appreciation for sugaring, and venison and stopping to appreciate the full moon as we walk home is amplified by the contrast to my wired busy life.


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