Snow and ice crackle underfoot as we wade through the underbrush –
We stop to listen to the ping from the tap into the metal bucket
Drip, drip, drip – a sugary nip from the maple.
A thin slip of frozen sweet treat floats on top,
And our tiny fingers grasp the icy sap.
The farm pony plods on, pulling the sled
Toward the sugar shack.
Grey smoke pours from the black chimney spout
Soot and syrup.
Mr. George stands and stirs the bubbling vat,
Old Man New Hampshire, through and through-
His face chiseled like Mount Washington.
A Grade A amber alchemist.
His wisdom is the land, his words few.
A stranger kicks up dirt on the rutted lane,
Unpaved and muddy from the thaw.
“Where does this road go?”
The corners of his gleaming eyes crinkle,
“All tha’ way t’ the end,” he says.
“And then, it stops.”