The songs of spring

It brings me back to being a young child, boots on feet, going out to play in the mud.

Spring and song seem made for each other, like hand and glove. A cardinal proclaims “It is spring!” from a high perch in the locust tree outside the Village Store Post Office. Red wing blackbirds whistle excitedly as they flock at Sally Duston’s place on Tucker Hill Road.

Scott Ellis’s poem captures the song of the maple sap and the spring chickadee:

Let me live in the sugarbush
Drop drop ping
The sound of sweet sucrose soaked sap slipping from a spile,
a sound that makes me smile.
One of the greatest gifts of gaia is the life blood of the maple tree.
Listen closely, the male chickadee is changing its call
Chickadee dee dee, Chickadee dee dee turns to Tweet tweet
The sound of sweet spring is told to us through the changing
pattern of nature’s residence.
The renewable regalia of stored sucrose from the maple is a special gift
A food source that is so pure that it is only one ingredient
Nothing dies
A pin prick release the pressured push from the cambian collar
Gravity gathers the succulent golden sap
The ratio must be reduced
40 gallons of sap to one gallon of syrup
Fires burn to release copious steam through cupolas
216 degrees, 217 degrees, 218 degrees a
And finally 219 degrees
The magic moment sugar crystals collide to create the valued viscosity.
If you so desire bring the temperature even higher
Sweet treats of candy, taffy, and butter you can acquire.
I am grateful for the glorious golden gifts of mother gaia
Let me live in the sugarbush
And listen to the sound of sweet sucrose soaked sap slipping from a spile,
a sound that makes me smile.

On Cobble Hill Road the voices of young children, free at last to play outside wearing nothing more than rubber boots, rise joyfully. They call to me, their neighbor, to visit and receive sweet hugs and kisses. An offer that cannot be resisted. There is nothing like hugs and kisses from a small child.  

The skunk is out and about too. Skunks mate during February and March. Their “song” is not heard, but smelled. My first smelling was in late February, and on March 7th I was awoken about five with the eau de skunk permeating the room. The odor was so strong it felt like it was burning my throat. This skunk may have been looking for a partner, warning off a male or, if a male, spraying another male because of the female. This is a not so nice harbinger of spring.

The squelching, splattering sound of mud is a familiar “song” of spring, too, coming from car wheels churning frantically as they struggle to make it up the road - or from the fun of stomping down the ruts in the driveway .


Mud play seems to have inspired this poem, contributed by Peter Thompson’s family:

Spring Freshet

Relentless rain in the night,
rushing muddy water;
a lightning flash reveals destruction.

Two bridges loose from their moorings,
sandy road banks caved in;
buildings askew all along the ditch.

Bright sun in the morning,
a dry breeze from the South;
two hands get to work, cold and wet.

Reshaping the roads,
digging toy cars from the mud;
by noon the village looks like new.

It brings me back to being a young child, boots on feet, going out to play in the mud. The glorious fun of it all.

Poetry Credits:
“Let me Live in the Sugarbush” - Scott Ellis
“Spring Freshet” - Peter Thompson

Photo credits:
Cardinal - otprofsp, Flickr Creative Commons
Car in mud - Ihor Hlukhoi, Flickr Creative Commons
Boy playing - Peter Thompson

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