Yesterday, when I took my dog, Liam, for a walk, the weather was so warm I could hardly believe it. A quick look at the thermometer told me that I should wear fleece rather than wool and that no hat would be necessary.
Not far from our house, the little swamp is still iced-up, and recently a neighborhood boy threw big rocks onto the ice, where the stones sit like sentinels, waiting to be submerged by the spring melt. On the sides of the road, the snow has pulled back so much that not only are the shoulders bare, but the ditches are free of snow as well.
Up the road we went. Finches frisked in the big forsythia bush by the Stebbins’s house. A bird feeder has been placed strategically close to the bush so that between beak-fulls, the birds can dart to safety should they need to do so. As we turned on to the Holmes Road, I thought about maple syrup and Mike’s Sugar House, which is just down the road. Mike should be boiling pretty soon, and I decided the sugar house could be no more than 2 miles from our home.
“We could walk to the sugar house,” I said to the dog, and he gave me his usual perky look. “We will walk to the sugar house when the sap is boiling,” I decided. On the weekends during maple syrup season, the dirt road leading to the sugar house is so clogged with customers’ cars that it’s hard to find a place to park. Walking would be much easier, we would get exercise, and it would be a low-carbon method of transportation. Three pluses. And if I brought one of my trusty backpacks, then carrying the syrup home would be easy.
But yesterday, Liam and I went for our usual walk of a mile or so down the Holmes Road, after which we turned around. By then I was so warm that I stuffed my mittens in my pocket and tied my fleece jacket around my waist. When have I ever done this in February? Never, in my memory.
As we approached the end of the road, I saw Jeff pull his van into the driveway of his house. Jeff is a trim, energetic man, who, as it turns out, is the homemaker of the family. Jumping out of the van, he waved, and his children bounded after him.
“Hello!” I called.
“Hi, there!” he called back. “Do you think I can make meat balls in 60 minutes?”
“Have you ever made this recipe?”
“Well, you better get cracking, then.”
Jeff laughed. “These meatballs have both mozzarella and Parmesan cheese in them.”
“Sounds great! Good luck.”
Jeff and his children sped into the house, and the dog and I rounded the corner onto Narrows Pond Road. I was thinking of meat balls and stir-fries using maple syrup.
By the time I reached home, I was definitely ready for my tea and my late afternoon snack of a small bowl of pretzels and an orange. The dog, of course, had hoped for a better snack, but he resigned himself to the pretzels and orange and lay beside me on the couch.