Tulip Pig and I have been waiting.
We did not get any special breaks. We had to wait until March - and when I say wait, I mean suffer through - for the big, beautiful sun to get high enough in the sky so that we could feel a little warmth in our bones.
Let a fire roar as it may, there is nothing that warms like the sun, except maybe some sort of nuclear accident.
Both of us have no idea how we survive the winter. Perhaps it is just dogged patience, determination and, at the root of it all, hope.
Oh, I do not want to recount the horrors of winter. Let those icy times reside in the past and the future.
For now, the pig and I will resort to our protected sunbathed nook behind the house at least once during each sunny day. I will work at my sunbathed bench, and she will wallow in the sun.
All the while the dogs in the house will be wallowing the patches of sun that wander the house during the day.
In a few months, when
everyone complains about the heat, I will laugh, "Ha, Ha!" Tulip pig will snort, "Grunt, grunt!" and bury herself up to her nose in the swamp.
I am so happy about the turn of events, that when I put out the sap buckets a few days ago and saw an uncanny number of them leaking, I simply said in a merry sort of way, "I better overhaul those things."
On a guess, I then jumped in the car and headed over to discuss the situation with those friendly North Country shop keepers at Harris Grocery.
What do you know? Sure enough, they had a magnificent collection of clean plastic mayonnaise containers that I quickly converted into sap collectors. Needless to say I hope to get some good runs, because I owe them some syrup.
I'd like to refer you to my Web site for a short video, but since my telephone company can't seem to provide me with broadband of any kind (or even reliable dialup) despite the fact that they provide a high-speed hookup to my neighbors, I can't.
But, I'll sum it up by saying this: one quarter-inch arbor drill, two close holes in the mayo jar, one at the curve of the container and one just above. It fits perfectly on the standard tap and stays put, even in the wind.
The collectors do not necessarily stay put when inspected by oxen who, by clunking around in the foot-deep snow, provide lots of holes for me to trip in while I'm walking around with my collection buckets.
Oxen also love the warming sun and will stand still in it for long stretches, doing their best versions of "The Cattle Are Standing Like Statues," from the musical "Oklahoma."
When not standing like statues they are basically being pains in the butt. They haven't been under the yoke for a few months. We need to get through mud week.
Marty and Peanut Ox (unlike Tulip Pig and myself) do not view any season, except black fly season if I forget to spray them, as anything but wonderful. So their enjoyment of spring is just another kind of enjoyment. It is no wonder that such magnificent animals are held in such high regard by certain Hindus and Buddhists.
That is another story altogether, though.
In the meantime, I am returning to my life of utter enjoyment.
Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley. He can be reached
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