We awoke to another few inches of snow this morning. With foggy eyes, confused and squinting, trying to recal the previous days snow melt then not being able to do the math, I stood at the window awhile. I saw juncos startling under the plops of snow the maple trees deposited atop our feeders. I saw them waste not a single ounce of energy, only moving far enough way to escape the bird sized avalanche. I saw the blue jay swoop in with an arrogance and brashness I could relate to- my morning latte requires the same level of fury. I laughed at myself and popped an extra vitamin D. I need it desperately, just to keep up.
The boys have long been outside now- as ignorant to the missing spring as the birds seem to be. I am one hand-typing trying to recall a moment from the week where I felt our distant star and the warmth she gave me.
We will walk. We will notice the beauty in what is, what must be, the last snow for the season. It is the minimal I am sure- giving precisely the amount of energy expenditure required for survival. Over and out.
A new knitter was born yesterday. After many months and perhaps years of finger knitting, it felt like this almost six-year-old was ready. The trick to knitting with a child is to not start too early- frustration kicks in and the magic could be lost. Hmmmm… come to think of it, that is similar to learning anything new, right? Reading, writing, riding a bike… the list goes on. But, that is another conversation all together.
It was so very pleasant to have a home day, a day in which a portion was spent cuddled on the couch with my two knitters. I listened to my son murmur the handy verse, “In the front door, go around back, peek through the window, and off jumps jack” and soaked up the momentary quiet. And I mean momentary when I say it. The long gray days can look crafty and sweet, just as easily as they can look like a wild swell of tears and fighting. So I take it where I can get it, and I soak it up for those future stormy seas.
I heard there is another ten inches of the cold, white stuff to come our way this weekend. I am trying not to mope about it, but let me tell you that is a true challenge. Thank goodness there is still good, clear sap to gather and boil down to make a sticky salve to heal this seasonal wound. There isn’t much a good batch of syrupy pancakes can’t fix anyhow.
I heard you can clean rugs by flipping them upside down in fresh snow and jumping on them. While this was fun, I am not sure it did much for the rug. But, it kept me from doing any actual cleaning on a sunny day. So, that’s not nothing.
But even the sun has been rare these days. And I can assure you- three boys indoors for any length of time is literally physical torture on my ears. So, there is much ado about swapping out wet socks and having lots of mittens on the warming tray ready for the next outing and of course, interesting adventures. We have drilled little holes in logs, stuffing them with suet and bird seed, we have searched for red-winged black birds, we have checked every sap bucket on the hill. We are not even close to exhausting our options, so have at it north wind.
But kept indoors for too long and it seems my boys fare better than even I. I’m itching to be outside so intensely I can’t keep still. I have been going room to room downsizing and rearranging. I have been chopping off hair. I have been trying to deny the deep feeling of CABIN FEVER!
But it is real. And much to poor Willow’s dismay- we end up outside more often than not. The girl will be tough, that goes without saying.
I’m giving thanks for good warm clothes these days- For the proper gear to cover up when the wind is howling, and it’s snowing sideways and the outdoors feels quite wild and unruly. The patches have been flying on trying to keep hold on to those precious items for just a bit more. Fingertips of gloves, knees of course, and so many tears in snow pants up the backside for a certain five-year old who can’t seem to stop getting “stuck” in a tree by the seat of his pants… hmmm…. This drama often ends in tears and laughter and always a brand new zig zag stitch. This is one pair of snow pants that will not be receiving the honors of being passed down.
I am grateful for these clothes, yes, and even more so for neighbors who are ready and willing to help take these suited up boys skiing on a blustery, powder day. I am literally surrounded by fantastic people. A girlfriend of mine jokingly asked how many neighbors I have because I seem to refer to everyone as my neighbor! Seems like a funny thing to do when we actually live so rural we can hardly see a house from ours. But, we do know all our “neighbors” and appreciate their presence in our lives on the daily. A beautiful thing- this small town life.
When the boys and girl and I are not braving the weather, we are diligently plotting the next season. I do so love dreaming of wispy, spring, color and fresh, spicy, greens in the thickness of the monochromatic world of winter.
And one last note- daylight savings saved my sanity! Yippee for later suppers and romps in the woods afterwards before the moon becomes our night-light!
It is true that sugaring gets you outside for the first crop when you might otherwise still stay in hibernation for one more month of sleety, slippery, frigid weather. It is also true that the results are worth every ounce of work. And this year I discovered even more weight in this sappy, splinter inducing work: The steam heals the deep, dry cracks in my dishwashers hands, my boys can cooperate with ease (mostly), we contain the proper patience and attentiveness to actually reduce the syrup to the perfect 220 F, and I am beginning to feel comfortable weaning myself off those lovely golden orbs of cod liver oil mixed with vitamin D- because it turns out the sun still exists!
This year’s product is by far the best yet, cooked on without a doubt the most “sophisticated” evaporator to date. We were gifted this lovely converted cooker and we have up a whopping 19 taps. I placed exactly zero of these taps as my boys have become quite capable and more than willing over the last 12 months. I also witnessed so much hand sawing (five straight hours to be precise) that I had to count it as main lesson. What is more worthy of an educational experience than blisters both blood and water? We pulled out 35 gallons of sap and boiled them down to two quarts of syrup over about 13 hours. That feels like low sugar content, but it could also be our methodology, we are as green as the wood we tapped!. But we are not lacking in enjoyment. Last night it was German pancakes for supper and this morning apple pie. What is that you say? You have never drizzled maple syrup on flaky apple pie? Well then- get to work!