The sap is still flowing. Monday afternoon we drove down and collected another couple of gallons. It does make me wonder how much more we could get if we tapped another forty trees (right now there are 12). Out past the giant sycamore there’s a grove of maples whose beauty takes my breath away. It made my brother gasp too in the first year we saw it. I don’t know if anyone else would find it incredible, or if my brother would even describe the grove as a breathtaking beauty. But it’s amazing to me to see the open wood floors, with the bare trees glowing with a tint of red from the sun.

It only happens in the evening. The photographers call it golden hour, which I find to be quite the appropriate name. The morning has one too, though it’s only a few minutes. In terms of color, March is about the brownest, muddiest, ugliest month there is, though I’d forgotten about the way the rising creek turns emerald green. And yet I still find it fascinating, still don’t care that it isn’t quite spring, when where I’m standing by the creek will be completely under water. In the summer, when it’s dry, the camp kids play here which is something I don’t enjoy thinking about. I’ve changed some way in adulthood, as creek-walking used to be one of the few camp activities I actually liked.

Months before Covid a man from church let me borrow a movie. A year or so before that, we’d been in a church book club together. During one of the meetings he somehow started telling me about a movie called City Lights. Anytime someone tells me something is amazing and that I’ve got to see it for myself, they catch my attention. I told him I’d have to check it out, and I intended to do so. Months later we ran into each other at the library. He asked me if I’d watched City Lights yet, which I hadn’t.

A few other times when I saw him in church he would ask me. He finally brought the movie to church, along with a typed-up note of interesting facts about it. This silent black and white film, which stars Charlie Chaplin, was also written, produced, and directed by him. The part that had caught my attention is when he said the final scene of the movie is said to be one of the greatest closing scenes in the history of cinematography.

I have never finished watching the movie. Through months of covid quarantines, countless free evening hours of reading, innumerable Saturdays with time where I could’ve watched it. I tried to watch it once and decided to try again later. The movie sat in our house, the cardboard slip-cover gradually becoming less and less new-looking. I put it in the place where the outgoing library books go, so I’d remember to bring it to church and put it back in this man’s mailbox. I came and went, day after day.

Today when we came back from gathering sap, I asked the boys if they could help me straighten the mud room. There was a bag of clothes and a pile of books that’ve been sitting there waiting to go to goodwill. When I picked up the book pile, there was the City Lights movie, with a dry yellow stain on the cardboard. I smelled it to see if it was something other than what I knew it was. There was cat pee on the cover.

It was bad enough when I would see him here and there throughout covid. It was even worse when we ended up in the same pew one Sunday. There was absolutely no reason for not having watched this movie. I finally just looked over and told him after church that I hadn’t finished the movie yet, and that I was sorry I hadn’t yet given it back to him. Again he told me that the ending was good and that he thinks I’m going to like it. But now that I know that there’s cat pee on the cover, that I still have not watched the movie, that now I’m wondering what I’m supposed to say if I don’t even get or like the ending, I’m not sure how much more this man can take.

I say I don’t care that it isn’t yet spring, and I don’t, though March is that month where I start to run out of juice. I’ve basically been loving every month since July. I got up at 5:30 when Josh’s alarm goes off. He had to leave early for a chapel visit a couple of hours away. This was the big kids’ late day, where they don’t have to be at school until 9. They left around 8:20 because they like to be there early. With the boys settled and working on school, I went back to bed and fell asleep. I woke up when Josh got back a little before lunch. We talked about a marriage situation happening with another couple we know, as everybody made and ate their lunch. After that we all went down to the woods to collect sap. I couldn’t hear the creek like last time. When we drove back over to look at the creek, it made us stop to not only hear but to see the difference. The rapids had become a calming green.

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