Monday, December 30, 2013

Opening paragraphs..............Part the Second

They were the ones who stayed.
      They told themselves this as they trudged past the houses up the road to the old lot in the spring snow.  The lot itself was a challenge.  Farming there was especially difficult because the soil was too rocky; the hill curved up too steeply.  For a period the family had burned lime there, but the railroad had not chosen to come to Plymouth and no one could get the lime out.  Now, in the 1870's, they found themselves returning to the limekiln for humbler, simpler harvest:  wood or sugar.  The logs could be sold by the cord.  The lot lay above their farm, to the west, and sugar maples were plentiful there.  In April, they tapped the trees.  Their family fashioned the wooden buckets themselves, sometimes branding the bottom with their name in capital letters.  They carried the buckets of sap to a sugarhouse, where it was heated and made into syrup.  Each year eight hundred to two thousand pounds of maple syrup and hard sugar were produced this way.  They liked the trees, which grew up with them, like siblings or children.  Others, even relatives, had deemed such harvests paltry.  Those others had headed west to the Great Plains, where your prosperity unfurled before you, flat and vast, like a yellow carpet.
-Amity Shlaes,  Coolidge

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