Fog Watcher

I have been a fan of the work of Ernest Thompson Seton as long as I can remember. My first discovery of his writing was as a child in my grandmother’s house on a bookshelf in her back bedroom. The book was called, “Two Little Savages,” and after reading it, I was hooked. Besides being a gifted writer, painter, and lecturer, Mr. Seton was a great admirer of the Native Americans, whose culture was sadly declining when he was alive in the early 20th century. In one of his most famous books, “The book of Woodcraft,” he said, “When men sit together at the campfire they seem to shed all modern form and poise, and hark back to the primitive — to meet as man and man — to show the naked soul.” Mr. Seton was a great believer of the magic of the campfire.

steamWe maple sap boilers have a similar contemplative bent… we are fog watchers. In the 5 or 6 years I’ve been doing the maple syrup thing, I’ve been surprised by how active I have to stay when I am boiling by myself. It seems like there is always something to check as the sap cooks down to that delicious syrup. There are moments, though, when for a few minutes, I can sit and stare into the fog. There is something mesmerizing about it, similar to the campfire that Mr. Seton so dearly loved. Unlike the campfire, fog watching seems to be more of a solitary pastime. You don’t often hear someone saying to their friends, “hey, let’s go down to the beach and watch the fog for a while.”

In the right circumstances, the sunlight can play with the fog in interesting ways. My boiling shack is sided with aluminum sheets that were once the roofing of my neighbor’s barn. The sun can hit the holes in the siding and make darts of light through the fog. It is really quite beautiful. Sometimes I’ll go outside and watch fog erupting from both gable ends of the little building, and also from under the eaves. For about a month every year, I’m in a fog.

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