Sunday, March 29, 2009

A watched pot boils all day.

Every spring, my girlfriends and I head to the Northwoods of Wisconsin for a ritual we've all grown to cherish. Our dear Strom is a woman of the woods and her parents still live in a beautiful log cabin they built on the river 25 years ago. As the waters thaw and the trees come alive, it is time to sap Maple Syrup and stand together in fellowship while it boils all day and night.

We play a very minor role in this tradition and are mostly sedentary over a brunch complete with blueberry pancakes or in lawn chairs near the fire. Some even dare to brave the river in canoes, though I have refused to make amends with the first bend since I tipped over three years ago and sat clinging to a log in my icy float jacket! I am still mocked for my superstition - that only this river has it out for me. So I held Strom's dog, Leinie, back as they loaded canoes. She was eager to join them and only causing tippy chaos with her 3 year old enthusiasm.

We wander through the woods, through trees tapped and draped with sap bags like catheters. It's time apart from the city and the weekend errands that usually plague Saturdays. Time with Strom's parents is an annual prescription for sanity. I stood in the kitchen with Lynn and we talked while she made a salad with wild rice from this land and fresh fruit that looked crisp. She has known me since I moved in with her daughter on our first day of college. Lynn has known of every major considered, boy dated, and house rented over the years, so the conversation is easy and appreciated. Nine years later, there is married life and a career to inquire about.

Outside Papa Phil is giving a tour of his work shed, anticipating rice season with satisfaction and pride. He's got rules about how close we can stand to the fire and thinks everyone should have another hot dog, giving us ample opportunity to tease and test him like good daughters. And he loves it. When I get him good, he comes back with a dare to brave the river this year. Maybe next year, I concede.

Today the temperature has the sap frozen in the bags and our usual task of hauling it up the hill is cancelled. It is just cold enough to choose red wine over beer, and we pass the Tostitos with lime back and forth, useless stumps. As I cuddle with a friend to keep warm, good conversation and fresh air wash over us. What Holy Communion.

These photos were stolen maliciously from Maren's Facebook page. Thanks, Mars.

No comments: