The entire process of gathering maple sap and boiling it to syrup was an education to me. And it was fun. But the moments that hold my soul so dearly are but a brief time in the days of reducing maple sap. They include one of students at Buck Brook, a very mellow guy named Billy Garvin.
I had gone to the boiling shed in the evening to see what was up. It was dark by then and Billy was there by himself. We chatted a bit and added sap and threw on logs. Then we fell silent.
The fire was glowing under the pan, flicking yellow light around the rustic walls and filling the shed with crackles and pops and smoke that was quickly dissipated. The steam rose in thick rolling clouds and passed through the shifting yellow light on its rushed journey through the open slots in the ceiling.
Billy expertly tossed logs into the fire, keeping the flames contentedly busy. His curly hair and glowing face added the perfect humanity to the warmth of the flicking light and the rustic shed and the heat of the fire and the cold damp of a light snow that fell on the open roof, melting on the exposed boards and dripping around us.
All so active with dancing light and so noisy with active fire and so stirring with damp and heat and cold. And all so absolutely at peace.
How long did I sit there in the presence of this glorious life? I’m pretty sure my body sat there a good long time. I know my soul still celebrates being there.