One Step Backward

by Tig Tillinghast

I arrived at the sugar bush this afternoon, planning on putting up a roll or two of lateral line before the snow got too deep to wade through. By the time I got to the sugar shack, though, I could see that the last ice storm’s damage included some downed branches that had taken out lateral lines I’d put up in the fall.

Long story short: it took me a couple hours just to wade out there and heave the branches off, some of which proved to be rather a bit larger than I’d expected once I levered them out of the snow. I very distinctly remember squinting down the hill at the shack, wondering what the relative energy expense would be heading down to get a chainsaw and coming back versus manhandling a few hundred pounds of sugar maple. Had I known, I would have gone for the saw.

By the time I freed the lines, it had grown dark. I’m eyeing the 500 trees we have yet to run by the lines, and I’m thinking it’ll be a close thing before the weather breaks for the sap season.

Moving through the snow carrying some tens of pounds of tools and fittings makes me think of astronauts lumbering around the moon, with movement restricted, moving slowly and accomplishing relatively little over an extended time. Everyone says it, but no one actually does it: we need to get this stuff done in the fall, before it snows.