Something Sweet

By Andrea Fisk Rotterman

November 2, 2015

Something Sweet

I walk the farm of my childhood in search of the sugar maple. I want to trace the brown bark, slide my fingers down its furrows, roll its needle leaf points between my fingers.

Beside me, Belle, my dad’s foxhound, holds her noble head high. She catches a scent, shifts into the prairie grass.

I wear a light jacket. It’s early April. Forty degrees. Cold north air is losing ground to the surge of warmer southern currents.

The sugar maple stands on a ridge alongside the old tobacco barn. Dark green leaves, the undersides the color of luna moth wings, waggle in a cross wind.

The tree has aged along with me. The bark flakes like dry skin. Some limbs have fallen as has my time with my father. With my index finger I trace the rivulets in the bark.

Belle circles back to me. I pat her head. “I think we found it, girl.”

I lay my palm on the trunk.

I am four years old. My father carves into the bark with his pocket knife. Shavings of wood curl and drop. Sap darkens its flesh.

I watch him search in the weeds. He breaks off a dry stem. He taps the tree, siphoning the clear liquid to his lips.

He turns to me, mirth in his Irish blue eyes. “Taste this, Betz. It’s sweet."

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