Search This Blog

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Der Fruhling…

the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halve course yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye

That slepen al the nyght with open ye

(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages…

Chaucer, Prologue to Canterbury Tales

It is not quite a pilgrimage Gladys and I are on this first day of Spring; we are both up to our same old tricks: checking the Valley’s business, as usual just being snoopy.

Spring has made a bold entrance, a record-breaking 71 degrees. As I coast along, I note the cottonwoods that dot the hills to the east, High Rock, the Cadman quarry and southward are greening up. Fuzzy clumps of yellow-green patchwork the slopes. I can almost smell the sticky ooze the cottonwoods exude. Soon I will have a chance to get up close and personal with Nature’s glue when I “go into the bees” to see what’s going on inside my beehives. The stuff of propolis, this sap is, and the bees use it liberally to seal hive lids and cracks, gluing tight all that’s loose, going about their business with this hermetic stuff. It is not against stings that I wear canvas gloves when I work the bees but to keep my fingers from sticking together, to avoid embarrassing stains on my hands. Later in May, these same groves of trees will issue the soft eiderdown  that is their namesake, the piles of which I will have to sweep from the garage for two or three weeks. 

The Cambodians are harvesting their daffodils, serving them up as vernal offerings to those who want to bring spring indoors: spring by proxy, I call it; the real spring is outdoors!daffodil harvestOn the homeward leg I stop and talk to Brett De Vries who is rehabilitating an old arbor on the Streutker homestead. He said he was too cheap to buy new lumber and is making do with the old, scraping off the old paint and repainting the pieces before he reinstalls them. Brett is an amiable young fellow, easy to talk to, and in my opinion quite savvy for a twenty-something. “Cheap” further endears him to me. Now “Cheap”I understand. However when it pertains to me,  I much prefer the more formal “frugal.” 

It is not to wish Brett a “Happy Vernal Equinox,” that I cease peddling and balance Gladys on her tentative kickstand: Brett has a new well cover. I noticed it the day before and the snoopy got the best of me. I want information. Perched above the well standpipe is an old cider press. It looked in excellent repair and seemed to me an item of value that should be stored tidily away out of the weather until apple harvest.

Years ago when Garth and Toni MaGee lived in the Valley, they would invite the neighbors to a cider squeezin.’ Garth had an excellent cider press he inherited from a friend’s estate. It was a motorized two barreler: while one barrel was being squeezed, the second was being filled at the chopper. Jim Cabe would contribute a bin of apples from a friend’s orchard up north. I would contribute the muscle to twist the screw and squeeze the juice from the pulp. In three hours we would have forty to fifty gallons of cider for ourselves and friends. It was a wonderful way to spend a nippy fall evening.

(Now cider press is a painful subject in this household. Three or four years ago at Christmas my wife gifted me with a fruit press. I have yet to use it and will not burden this post with the reasons why. It still resides in its original shipping box out in the shed, has yet to squeeze a drop of juice. Someday, though. Someday, I swear: “Let there be juice!”)

Brett and I walk over to the ol’ Cider Press. He had discovered this old constrictor languishing amid piles of tools and machinery in Jerald’s red barn. Although the press looked quite functional from the road, I discovered that the pulping spindle is almost impossible to turn. When it does, the shredding wheel shreds splinters from the wooden trough that receives the fruit. Without this apparatus the press is almost useless. And that’s why it adorns the well standpipe—yard art of sorts. Brett looked at the apple trees planted about in the yard. “It seemed to go with the theme,” he said. Orchard Feng Shui. A touch of genius—especially for a twenty-something!yard art

Note: This morning I awoke “…when there was nothing left of the Equinoxes, because the Precession had preceded according to precedent…” (Kipling’s Elephant’s Child). 6:30 a.m. It was dark, whereas last Sunday it was light at the same time. So much for the spring equinox. Daylight Savings Time, that blasphemer of the god Chronos.

Print this post

No comments:

Post a Comment