About this time of year on warm sunny days in Boston, the bucket players appear on street corners and on the plazas. Hats on backwards, oversized clothes hanging on their bones as they squat in front of a variety of overturned plastic buckets, they fill the air with strong, earthy, frenetic rhythms. The air pulses. Often there are dancers and the streets are crowded with souls released from the winter confines of offices. The smell of food vendors wafts in the air. The circus has come to town.
It’s quiet here on the dirt roads. My walks are “hot fudge sundae” walks: cold snow-ice still in huge piles breathing cold drafts, contrasting with bright golden sunshine warming my face and shoulders. There’s a skim of mud on the still frozen road and the footing is soupy. The birds are coming back, staking out territories and the ones that have been here all along are singing about setting up house. The full bird orchestra has not yet arrived. An occasional flute is tuning up in readiness.
Plink. . . plunk. . . plink, plunk. What is that sound? Ah, yes, it’s the tune of maple sap dripping into empty tin buckets. I discover that I’m not far behind the syrup maker’s truck as they collect the watery sap into the large clear containers filling the truck bed. With an air of fulfillment about them in their buffalo plaid jackets and caps with ear flaps, they tell me that this has been a very good year. And being New Hampshire yankees, they add, “So far.” The see-saw of above-freezing days and below freezing nights keeps the sap running up and down. “That’s a good thing for collecting, ” they say. “Get those pancakes ready!”
As I continue on, the wind picks up and sap bucket lids become cymbals clanging to the beat of the dripping someday syrup. It’s the bucket music of spring.