Maple Spile

By Erin Calabria

January 5, 2015

Maple Spile

We called that hill of sugar maples at the end of Deacon Parker Road "the big bush." In March, with the sun dropping gold and the slosh of snowmelt soaking our boots, we hauled buckets of sap down from those endless trees to the waiting truck, back and forth till the air turned chill and our shoulders throbbed. We loved that time though -- the first warm days of the year paired with frost-spun nights, the earth just beginning to breathe its musk of fresh green and old rot, of cold water and thawing dirt. For us, sugaring was the brief, contradictory threshold between two seasons, and the trees on the hill surged with the possibility of it.

Later, a few weeks after the sap stopped running but before the warblers returned north, my brother trekked back into the woods. He was looking for any forgotten tap spiles, pulling them before sapwood turned to heartwood and bound them into the trees. Some he could tug with his hands, while others he had to bang loose with a log. Some shone like new; others were singed with rust, their tops flattened and flared from year after hammer-struck year. One he brought back for me had an interlocking hook and spout, each part a key to the other. These days now, wherever I find my home, I carry that spile as a conduit, a link between things lost and things not yet dreamt, a channel for the sweet flow of spring.


Photo "Dripping Maple Goodness" provided by LadyDragonflyCC - >;<, via Flickr creative commons license.

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