It's sugaring season around here, which means this is the daily afternoon-into-evening scene: these four little ones, sitting on this old van seat next to the evaporator, chowing down on pretzels and sugar on snow and whatever other unhealthy treats they can get their super grubby mitts on.
They love each other, these children. And are getting to know themselves through one another.
For my eldest (the butterfly in snow pants) there is school, and the friends she makes there, but at the heart of her life is this family that loves her unconditionally for who she is; that listens when she talks; that lets her know she is an all-important cog in this extended family wheel.
There are all sorts of reasons it's groovy to make your own maple syrup--synchronicity with the natural world, time outside during mud season, affordable delicious nectar of the tree gods--but this family piece is another one. There is love in the sugar house. There is security in the sugar house. A "we are all in this together" steam-faced stickiness in the sugar house that can override some of the world's less loving elements.
So to my parents, who are not sitting by the wood stove with tea right now writing this, but are down the road lighting a fire in the evaporator and preparing for the next ten hours of boiling (2000 gallons of sap already and the day's run hasn't even begun!): a simple and inadequate thank you. Your little people are lucky.