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the way of old

Photo by Norbert Blei

The Ways of Old

Through the years I’ve been called a curmudgeon, a coyote, and worse in these parts.

Once they even took my job away as local writer–when writing about something used to matter around here.

But all I was suggesting in the onslaught of overdevelopment was preservation.

I pined away for years at my old friend Ed Abbey’s sense of time: “Why can’t we just leave things the way they were?”

I thought of that again today driving the sunny backroads of the rural landscape I’ve come to love…checking up on things: hawks high on trees, crows in cantankerous chatter, horses standing at attention, a farmer leaning on a fence post bound to nothing…

I was looking for confirmation, signs of the way it used to be.

For years I’ve been bemoaning the disappearance of my favorite harbinger of spring: maple syrup time. Tapping the old trees. Cool nights, warm days. The sap dripping into metal buckets. Another lost way…

Something almost prayerful in that sight.

Then, there they were…

Glory be to buckets of pure maple sap.

–norbert blei

Photo by Norbert Blei


  1. David Dix

    I believe those are plastic buckets, maybe for spackling compound for some @#$!!! condo project.

    But yeah………

  2. Marty Robinson

    How awful to exploit the poor maples–to suck their life blood to sweeten our pancakes. To keep the sap from flowing to the heights to feed the buds of Spring and the leaves of Summer.

    Well, that’s how a tree-hugger might view it. Not me, of course.


  3. Judy Amberg

    Thanks for the hope-filled photo!

  4. Jude hey

    Well Praise the Lord and Pass the BUCKETS !!!!!!!!!!

  5. Barbara Fitz Vroman

    Ah yes, we pine for things torn from us too soon, beloved things we feel can never be replaced…but the whole universe seems primed for progress, never stagnation however beloved, and then…for what may seem too soon for most of us…we too become obsolete and must go so that new life can forment and take our place. That is why the poetry you give us is so precious, for it reminds us to see, to really see, the beauty, the complexity and the awe of every single day. We may not come this way again.

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