Sweetness

Ingrid hadn’t nursed since December, but this morning while I was feeding Iris she asked to, and I let her. She couldn’t remember exactly how to latch on. She got a little, and laughed and said There’s not enough milk in there! Iris noticed what Ingrid was doing and started to laugh, and for a full minute they both nursed and laughed, nursed and laughed.

*

I’m reading about music and all the ways our brains can turn it around. One person in ten thousand can recognize and name each tone just as easily as I can call the sky blue. It’s possible to hallucinate music, hear it ceaselessly, as though a radio is on and can’t be turned off. It’s possible to lack—or lose—the ability to “hear” music at all; it can sound like nothing but noise. And a stroke of lightning can uncoil, in a regular guy, a passion so great that he teaches himself to play the piano and stays up all night composing.

*

A’s dad taps his maple trees every spring and cooks down the sap in a vat over a fire. We drove up today to help carry buckets, chop wood, and stand around in the sun breathing wood smoke and maple steam while the dog and cats squashed around in the mud.

Iris was enchanted with the dog, and I repeated several times That’s the dog. The dog says woof. Woof woof. Woof. The dog did a lap around the house, and when he reappeared, Iris was right on him. ‘oof, she said. And again, looking right at the dog, ‘oof.

The sap runs just during the time of spring when the days are above freezing and the nights are below. The warmer days make the roots start pulling water up from the soil. The sap runs until the buds pop open, until you see a haze of green across the woods; then it’s done. Forty gallons of sap boil down to a gallon of syrup.

A’s brother showed up, and his grandma, and we all ate lunch outside. Iris rode in the sling for hours. Ingrid zipped around the yard, peering at the roiling liquid, tossing sticks on the fire, letting A lift her up to sip drips of sap right from the tap. She careened back to me and locked Iris and me in an almost illegally tight hug. My baby sister, she said. My baby sister. I’m going to keep her forever.

We wrestled both girls down for naps, and by the time they woke up it was late afternoon and the sap was almost syrup, murky and foamy. We took turns tasting it from a metal ladle, all four generations of us. This is the kind of sweetness I want for my girls: the kind that can sleep underground all winter. The kind that takes all day to boil from barely sweet water to thick sticky syrup. The kind that tells the leaves it’s time to open up and see the sun.

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3 thoughts on “Sweetness

  1. What a wonderful post. I love the way you write.

    And I am so envious you got to experience something I’ve only read about in Little House on the Prairie books! 🙂

  2. Ugh, I have horrible memories of sap-collecting and maple-syrup-making. It was sooo cold and icy when I did it. But it’s a fun experience and I’m so glad you got to do it with your girls! And Iris talking!

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