On Sunday, I walked the woods where I spent my childhood. My mom sold her house and two of her ten acres, but the eight acres that are left are up for sale. Which means I try to get out there and walk it once a week while she still owns it.
In the spring, the forest gets very wet, the soil, a rich black compost of dead pine needles and underbrush from last year, saturated with runoff and snowmelt. The neighbor has his maple grove tapped, and his sugar shack was blazing and he was out tilling his little garden plot when I got there.
“Is that Amanda?” He yelled down to me, his Northeast Kingdom roots audible in his heavy Vermont accent.
“Yup!” I yelled up. We chatted for a few minutes and I waved goodbye as I trekked through the open field towards the woods.
The forest here in the summer is overgrown with raspberries and blackberries, thick underbrush crowding the trunks of these great tall pine trees that I used to spend my days climbing.
Now though it is bare, and muddy, and the deer trails are visible. I walk along them warily- this land is replete with black bears, and they’ll follow the same trails. I walk further back until I make it to the farmer’s pasture that backs up to the other side of her land, and then I wander west, up the hills and rocks towards the neighbor’s maple grove. And like I did when I was a kid, I open one of his sap buckets and dip my fingers in and take a taste. Sweet water, which will be made into his own brand of rich maple syrup.