Spring's Blood Pumping
The dogs and I watched the old farmer drill holes, tap spiles, then hang buckets this afternoon.
I was eager to go and ask: wasn't it early, how long to fill up, does he have to move them around on the tree.
Puck and Miles were eager to rush out stiff-legged, all barks and sniffing and peeing on stuff.
Later, after the old farmer had disappeared, we checked out the couple-dozen buckets he'd hung on ancient maples guarding the ancient dirt road.
I stopped squelching through meltwater and rim-ice on puddles, the boys stopped huffing and bounding through snow that's been through a dozen freeze/thaw cycles ... and we heard it.
The centuries old sugar maple surrendering her sap to yet another assault from yet another farmer.
Empty buckets make the best noise, like a Connecticut steel-drum band, a rhythmic and tonal system all its own. I stand as still as I'm able, shushing the boys when they get impatient to find the next smell, next stick, next thing to pee on ... listening.
Now that I'm focused, I can hear tings and tunks and plonks up and down the line of tree, like neighbors talking back and forth after going away or hunkering down for the winter.
They're saying spring has come, bleeding to change the season, singing a tympanic song to the darkening day about lightness and warmth to come.
I look both ways for witnesses, crunch into the snow a few feet, lift the bucket lid, then dip a finger in and taste Spring.