Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Sunday, as I was walking to the garden to plant the seeds which I hope will bear an abundance of vegetables in the weeks and months to come, I was ambushed by a slew of miniature helicopters. The tiny whirligigs came spinning on a gust of wind from a great sugar maple, which only a couple of months ago was surrounded by a sea of snow, with two sap buckets hanging from its wide trunk. On Sunday, the small disks – the tree’s winged seeds – cut merrily through a summerlike mid-day. I’d never seen such a fleet.

My brothers and I used to take great delight in collecting the seeds – called samara – that fell from the large maple tree, whose thick limbs were perfect for climbing, next to our back deck. We’d toss handfuls of helicopters into the air, or drop them over the railing one at a time, wonderingly watching their twirling descent to the ground. The bombardment of seeds the other day reminded me of those childhood helicopter launches.

Sometimes I feel as if adulthood – dare I admit middle age? – has snuck up on me. Wasn’t I just a kid last week, flitting through the fabulous, carefree days of summer with skinned knees and new freckles? How is it that I have three kids of my own, that my parents are grandparents, that those lazy summer days are now filled with so much busy activity?

Likewise, the full bloom of late spring somehow surprises me each year. The snow seems to take forever to recede after ski season, the green emerges painstakingly slowly – a wisp of grass here, a budding tree there, the miniscule leaf of a lupine poking out from the brown field. And then, all of a sudden, my children are handing me great golden bouquets of dandelions, the lilacs are in full bloom, and the forests bordering the fields have formed a broad canopy of foliage.

And so it was this year, one day hauling buckets of sap from the old sugar maple for our small sugaring operation, the next marveling at the tree’s fruit spinning through the bright air, seeking a place for the next generation to take root and thrive.

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