The First of the Season Boiling of Maple Sap
Not a pretty picture, but what comes from this is delicious!
“It’s been a funny winter,” many people here in Maine say. They say it’s been long, hard, and just too much. But for me this winter brought back memories of winters past. Long winters of being happily snow bound for days on end. Winters that didn’t end until well after Easter. Easter egg hunts with the kids in snow coats and winter boots looking for eggs hidden in snow. Maybe it has been a long, hard, snowy winter for many. And I guess it has for us too. While I have enjoyed many of the old memories this winter has brought me and the lovely snow, it has also brought some difficult changes.
When I went out to collect maple sap today I noticed that much of the snow around the trees had melted and the pails were unusually high, my shoulder height to be exact. That was a first and it was a testament to how deep the snow was when we hung those pails just a month ago. I thought about that as I brought the pails full of sap in to boil. As I sat and watched the first sap of the season boil, I realized something about why this past winter has been so hard on my husband and I. It wasn’t the long, snowy winter. And it wasn’t just the deaths of our dogs. It hit me as I watched the ferocious bubbles of the boiling sap explode in front of me. We have been mourning more than the loss of our dogs, our companions. We have been mourning the close of a chapter in our life. And as I reflect on that I realize that it was the most important one of all. It was the chapter of children. Having, raising, living with our two children. We’ve had our dogs, Baxter and Seneca, for much of our children’s lives. So it makes perfect sense that as they left us, the reality of our children leaving us also became so real.
I’ve written about this before. This is not novel. All couples go through this to some degree. It’s life. It’s suppose to happen. We all know it’s going to happen. Yet that realization today was deeply moving yet at the same time almost freeing. Freeing to really grieve without feeling silly for having so much emotion invested in our dogs. “They were part of our family.” I tell my friends who wonder silently why this has hit us so hard. It was freeing to put all those emotions into words. To label it, give it a name, make sense out of it all. I cried as I made my first of the season syrup today.That too was a first.
I remember an old episode of the show, “Everybody Love Raymond”, where Raymond was spying on his wife Debra. She was inside by herself crying to beat the band. This upset him and he asked her why she was sad. She said something rather deep for such a silly show. She said that sometimes she just needs a good cry because it’s like taking a shower inside. It cleanses her inside. Then she steps out and she feels cleaner. That’s exactly how I felt today.
Syrup making has always been a time of celebration in our house. Celebration of the ending of winter and the coming of spring. This season I will celebrate that my kids are grown. They are healthy and they are happy. They are living their lives the way they want to. That deserves celebration. And as any book lover knows, every new chapter holds untold surprises and joys.