Cat, man, quarantine

That’s my neighbor Phil, with Winooski. I went down his driveway this morning, on my way back from the daily five mile walk. We met through the window.

I’m being careful to keep my distance from everyone–my son and four friends arrived here from NYC five days ago. We have another ten days to go to be reasonably sure none of us are infected with the corona virus.

The boardinghouse is full at this moment. But do contact me if you’re hoping to get away later this spring, summer or fall.

Let’s all take care of each other by staying safely distant. Weird, huh?

Old things

Some trees live a long time. Depends on species, growing conditions, and disease and pest risks.

These old sugar maples–100+–are just down the road from my house. Years ago, I tapped this stand of maples, along with enough other trees to produce about 30-50 gallons of syrup each spring.

These days, I get syrup from my neighbor Bryan who has a permanent sugar shack and much more sophisticated equipment than I ever had. We tapped trees with the old-style spigots, buckets and lids, gathering by hand with a horse or tractor-drawn wagon. Bryan uses the modern piping system and has a carefully calibrated evaporator.

Photo below was taken in the ’70s–that’s me on the left with my old neighbor Milan Conklin and my dog Sheba–boiling sap on our outdoor sugar “arch.” I’d stay up all night to watch the boil, continuously adding sap to the sugar pan.

We know how to have fun on the Maple Ridge Road.

When a puddle is home

The first pair of mallards showed up two days ago, paddling around a large puddle in the front meadow. While the snow has melted, except for random patches in the woods, the ice has not yet gone out of the pond.

There are people who live near lakes and ponds who track the date ice leaves these bodies of northern water. I have to admit I’ve never written down the precise date for ice out of our pond, but it’s usually sometime in March, at least in recent years. Back in the ’70s and early ’80s, the ice could hang on into April, along with frozen ground and piles of snow. The climate is changing.

Took this earlier today–most of the pond still iced over. Tonight’s low temperature expected to be 5F.

Local traffic

On my walk this morning, six Amish buggies passed me, plus one pick up truck. Kind of cool to live in a place where horse-drawn traffic can outnumber gas-fueled vehicles.

The north country of NYS is home to a substantial Amish community, largely members of the Swartzentruber branch–the most traditional Amish people, a far-cry from the folks featured on sensationalist “Amish” cabel tv programs, and much more conservative than the better-known “Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish.”

My Amish neighbors are deeply connected to the land–operating family dairy or vegetable farms, and often supplementing their income with small sawmills or wood-working shops.

Lizzie, one of my closest Amish friends, makes quilts in the winter which she sells to a buyer somewhere downstate. Basket-makers are also busy in the cold months. I get this. I’m pretty bound by the land and the seasons myself. I crochet blankets in the winter–while I hardly pick up a crochet hook during the spring and summer months when I’m busy outside–and my hands are always dirty.

Swarzentruber Amish avoid having pictures taken of themselves–I even ask if it’s okay to take a picture of their horses or homes.

Seasonal tilt

March is a month askew. For me.

The ice is in transition. Treacherous. Not what it seems. Do I use up the firewood on the porch, or conserve it in case it turns deeply cold again? Do I pack away the long underwear and dig out the t-shirts?

It’s a psychological thing most of all. I understand the groggy bear in late winter. Hungry for sunlight and fresh food, but wary of leaving the warm cave.

Soon, the ground will thaw, we’ll smell it. But right now, I’m tempted to bury myself under the covers and dig out another book.