Sitting, fishing through fat ice, Country Dwight spied City Jim. Gripping his circling pail of perch and bass, soon to be stew, Dwight dragged his camp chair, quick shuffling, toward the frozen shore. Then their backs to the lake, they stood together, eying twisting treetops on windy hills.
Dwight pushed his face into the damp pulses rocking and tossing highpointing twigs. His eyes scrunched up to the late February sun, too soft today for drawing up rootwaters, up behind rough grey bark, up through dancing black branches, up toward calling tightcoiled buds.
"Sap tomorrow," Dwight spoke. City Jim nodded friendlydoubtful seeing straining webs of branching boughs like networks linking white skylight to dark rootworks twisting under snows through jagged rocks crushed under by weighty glaciers long since gone. He saw those weblines underground unfurl to their fishfull lake sealed shut beneath its fair cap of flat ice - and up to the greengrey hills rippling south and east toward roads and cities, spreading and mingling and developing and filling with divergent ramifications, fertile or dead ending.
Country Dwight stood shouldered to City Jim, fatherly but cigarless and without the bottle sway or whiskey breath. Shouldered to greypated Jim, Dwight felt again being taken small to hunt, to fish, to trap, to kill. . . to tap and drill flat frozen lakes or tall sumping trees. When City Jim moved in with books and pans and tools and plans, Country Dwight, ever seeking ways to help, fell in. And Jim fell too into ways first worked by ice-following tribes long before they were stifled under poxy spreads.
Trudging down trails, they found right trees by sighting shoot patterns shared by sugars, reds, and other maple breeds. All through three Marches they drilled and tapped, hanging buckets, and Dwight would say "We want warm days and cold nights," and Jim would laugh and say Dwight was alright.
City Jim let Country Dwight check buckets and help pour them to containers for taking home. And at Jim's house, they'd ladle sap into pans they'd boil on wood fires while they watched and drank coffee all day. It took all day, but then there was syrup to put in plastic bottles and glass jugs. And then, with more coffee and City Jim, Dwight would eat hot waffles made by Thelma, but today the February sun was not enough.