That one day they tapped all the trees. The next, the kettles were hung on the large crane, the immense logs were rolled up, the kettles filled with sap, and the blue smoke of the first fire went curling up gracefully through the tree-tops. What an event, the first fire! Not as in New England, sugar in the West is never made until the winter snow has disappeared, and the surface has become dry, and the woods pleasant, and the opening day at the boiling was as brilliant as its predecessor.
Bart and Edward, with a yoke of steers, gathered the sap towards evening, and George tended the kettles; many curious bright-eyed chickadees boldly ventured up about the works, peeping, flitting, and examining, with head first on one side and then on the other, the funny doings of these humans in their dominions, and searching for the store of raw pork, which, according to their recollection, ought to be hid away somewhere near by.
The boys had pulled down, removed and rebuilt their old snug cabin, with one end open to the broad and roaring fire; in the bottom of which, over its floor, were placed a large quantity of sweet bright straw, and two or three heavy blankets.
The “run” made it necessary to boil all night; and filling the kettles and adjusting the fires, Bart and the boys, hungry and tired, went up to supper and the chores; after which Bart and Edward, taking the former’s rifle, and lighted by a hickory torch, returned to the camp for the night—Edward really to sleep, sweet and unbroken, in the cabin, and Bart to take care of the kettles and fires, to muse and dream, and think bright, strange thoughts, and watch the effects of the lights and shadows, listen to the dropping of the sap into the buckets, and the boding owls, whose melancholy notes harmonized with, rather than interrupted, the solemn effect of deepest night. Man easily reverts to savagery and nature; and this tendency was marked in Bart, whom this new recurrence to old habits of wood-life, so dear to him, filled with such pleasant sensations of joyous unrest, that until near the coming dawn he was disinclined to sleep, and when he did, the first note of an old robin from the topmost twig of a giant old maple awoke him fresh to the labor and enjoyment of another resplendent day. And so the days followed each other, and the spring deepened. Myriads of flower-beds shot up through the dead leaves, and opened out their frail and wondrously tinted petals for a single day, and faded. Not a new one opened—not a cloud or tint varied the sky—not a note of a bird or tap of a woodpecker, that was not marked by Bart, to whom Nature had at least given the power to appreciate and love her lighter works.