April 22. It is a Saturday afternoon in late April, eleven days out from the final boiling day, and all seems familiar. Wild leeks near the Keystone line are poking up 3-4″. Spring beauty buds are tight today but won’t be for long. Witch hobble blossoms and leaves are greening up at the edges. Falls Brook swells with rain; spring freshets chase down to it and will for a little while longer. Mrs. Raven still sits in her nest; Mr. Raven fusses. The sugarbush feels poised for the burst of abundant life.
Familiar too is noting the progress of the woods crew in knocking out taps and rinsing lines. They carry five-gallons of water on their backs to squirt into the tubing at each tap, refilling their backpack tanks at the freshets or at springs. It has been good working weather for the most part: cool, with no remaining rotten snow to wallow in.
As I hiked up to find leeks I recalled that today is Earth Day. At a lecture this winter I learned of the findings of forestry research, how trees network with each other via fungal systems, how they cooperate. Ecologists are modifying the old model of trees competing for resources; it seems they share! I feel so encouraged by news of the example forests have set for us all along. http://e360.yale.edu/features/exploring_how_and_why_trees_talk_to_each_other.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT THE OPERA
During the long boil of April 10th, Joe, Ana Lucia, and I brainstormed ideas for an opera to be called The Work with the Sap.
We thought we’d set the scene through a depiction of some of the lowly tasks of the sugarhouse crew. Ana Lucia ( A.L. Fernandez) volunteered to write the libretto. She retreated to a secluded beach in Mexico and just sent this early draft:
Quita la miel de ayer, ponlo en cubetas, raspa la orillas, echa agua, y aspira.
Ahora nada más falta empezar el fuego y limpiar el de desastre que hicimos.
Remove the syrup from yesterday, put it in buckets, scrape the sides, add water, and vacuum.
Now all we need to do is start the fire and clean the disaster we made.
Los barriles pesados nos ven de la esquina con una mirada de burla.
Son una muestra de nuestro trabajo largo de los días anteriores.
Te sientes fuerte hoy?
The heavy drums look at us from the corner with a taunting look.
They are a show of our long work of the days before.
Do you feel strong today?
Primero, Segundo, Tercero, Cuarto (bass and soprano duet)
Primero, baja los barriles sin que te aplasten.
Segundo, mete agua caliente sin que te quemes.
Tercero, dale vueltas sin que te canses.
Cuarto, saca el agua sin que te salpiques.
Ahora sí estás listo para llenarlo!
First, bring down the drums without them smashing you.
Second, fill them with hot water without burning yourself.
Third, roll them around without tiring yourself out.
Fourth, take out the water without splashing yourself.
Now you’re ready to fill it!