If you linked to this post to learn about the woodpecker called a sapsucker, you can move on, because this post is about humans thirsting for the light after winter darkness, with that light seeming as vital to human survival as sap is to the buds of trees.
I am feeling elated about seeing another spring, mostly because I was downright maudlin in the autumn, and basically figured I’d be pushing up daisies by now. One of the benefits of being prone towards hypochondria is how darn good you feel when you don’t die.
One of the things I did last fall was to plant a mess of bulbs all over the place, thinking it was sweet of me to plant flowers I might never see, and that maybe I’d be fondly recalled when they came up and bloomed in unexpected places in the spring. In some cases I think it is the voles that are fond of me, as they got a free lunch, but here and there I can see a few starting to appear. I’m glad to be here to see them.
We are not suppose to store up treasures here on earth, where moths can eat and rust can corrode, but rather we are advised to store up treasures in heaven. I’m not sure the tax collectors agree with that. They want us to sow so they can reap. At times I get fed up with them, for at times it seems doing the right thing is never a rewarding thing, here on earth. They have taxed my patience and taxed my philosophy, but I have seemed to come up with a bulletproof attitude in my old age. I know that, if I plant bulbs, the greedy will come to pick the flowers, but I also know where I have planted, and they don’t know about such things, for they don’t plant. They don’t know where to look. In many cases, by the time they register that flowers are blooming, and rush to pick them, the bloom is past its peak, and they wind up looking like ridiculous misers, hoarding withered flowers. I get my simple pleasures, and they get to look like fools. I probably should pity them, but confess I do get a good laugh out of my way of looking at them, (even as they likely get a good laugh out of me).
In any case, considering I was not all that sure I’d be here, I’m getting a lot of joy from this spring. It has occurred to me that a lot of the trees around here are my age, or even older, and this means I never planted them. I am the beneficiary of some one else, who I never knew, who planted them. In some cases it was a forgotten man, and in some cases it was a forgotten squirrel, or a wind I never knew blowing seeds through the air, but I do know it wasn’t me. I make sure to thank them.
I seem to be thanking a lot more than I used to, and am thankful even for the annoyance of this weather map and radar map:
You can click these maps if you care to enlarge them, but they basically show a storm zipping up the coast of the USA, and giving us, on the first full day of spring, which happened to be a Monday and the start of a workweek, a picture like this:If you look at the picture you’ll notice signs that the driveway was hand-shoveled. I did it, which is pretty good for an old guy who thought he might be pushing up daisies by now. I just didn’t want the awful noise of the snow-blower, for only four inches of fluff. It was a joy to be out. When the drive was half done I mentioned, to an employee at the childcare, that I didn’t want to hog all the pleasure, and would trade jobs if she wanted to escape the kids and just enjoy the silence and beautifully white world. She jumped at the chance. It was a beautiful, brief time of whirling white.
At first the kids, who tend to only be half-wake when they arrive, only wanted to hear stories, or play with dolls or blocks, but soon they wanted out, and after the usual battle to dress them all, the silence outside was broken.
However so high is the sun that by a little after lunch time the snow was shrinking, and the engineering of snowmen was downsized, because resources were shrinking and it was obvious they wouldn’t last long.
And so penetrating and brilliant was the sunlight that by afternoon the snow was completely gone by the south-facing wall, where the boys played with trucks (allowing us to clean the indoors before closing).
Of course the trees felt the sun, and the maple sap began flowing like gangbusters. My son, who has tapped 20 trees, can’t keep up, and now has 90 more gallons collected than he’s managed to boil on the back porch.
I know how much work is involved, and my ambition has dwindled over the years, until now I only have a single tap, for the entertainment of the children at the Childcare. It never fails to amaze them how swiftly the sap comes dribbling from the tree, when you drill the hole, and they line up to take turns simply watching the drops tap the bottom of the bucket.
A lot of boiling is involved to make the syrup or candy. This late in the season it takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup, and a gallon of syrup only makes around three pounds of candy. The older kids were telling the younger kids how good the candy was, remembering from last year, but they had forgotten how long it took to boil all the water away. They wanted immediate gratification, so I told them we could skip the bother of boiling, and even could skip the bucket, and they could just drink the drops as they came out of the tree. Even though you can barely taste the sugar, the kids were amazingly enthusiastic, and lined up to take turns, and wanted “seconds” and “thirds”.
Even though I’ve seen all this before, I was strangely thirsty to see it again, because for some odd reason I seem to either be seeing it for the first time, or for the first time in fifty years.
How is it people forget how they craved
The spring when young; the way they sniffed sunlight
Like they’d gone prehistoric, preferring caved
Corners of south-facing cliffs to the bright
Nesting of their electric living-rooms,
And ran their eyes over greening tree tops
Like fingers through hair. Reborn from the tombs
Of midwinter gloom their eyes sought snowdrops
In dead garden leaves, with the sun so intense
Even the dead leaves made eyes squint happy,
And even without flowers one sniffed incense,
And even without poems one was sappy
As the wanted light filled ones very veins.
I cannot forget it, while this pulse remains.