Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring... Has indeed sprung!

"It isn't what you look at that's so important. It's what you see."

-David Thoreau

Spring does indeed seem to be gaining momentum... and Winter... now soiled and confined to irregular skeins in open spaces and fugitive pockets sheltered in wooded areas appears to be in retreat. Despite the cold wind... the stronger sun rises earlier to warm the morning and remains longer to encourage the spirits of both the human and animal worlds in the latter part of the day.

I saw... and heard my first American Robins today... a sure sign in this part of Ontario that Spring will continue to unfold... until the world is once again green and fully alive. Recently- returned, migrant Canada Geese have already paired at Rumble's Mill. Their constant... raucous bugling and head bobbing behaviours reveal their keen readiness to begin the ritual of creating life anew.

The sap is running well... but a little behind schedule at local sugar bushes. McCutcheon's operation of upwards of 6000+ taps was well under steam. Their bush had a steady flow of sap... and visitors to their shanty to taste the 2011 syrup... and to pick up their maple treasures... as I did. A large bottle of their 2011 syrup and a large batch of their scrumptious "to-kill-for" maple candy will be in my luggage headed south... for a Barbadian-Canadian breakfast during our stay with my daughter Lisa.

It was wonderful to spend time with the entire McCutcheon clan... all there to cover the bases in the family operation. I had met son Jesse a number of years ago... when on a cold, but sunny March day in 2005, I painted their home and shanty. That plein air foray initiated and forged my special friendship with Rene, Ken and their family. That painting now has a place of honour in their lovely and tastefully decorated brick home. And yes... a gallon of their maple syrup did figure into the price. HAHA! What a sweet deal!

Today... I finally got to meet daughter Carley... a friendly and attractive young woman. Actually... I first "met" Carley when we touched bases via my blog... and hers! I had absolutely no idea that she had been operating a blog since 2006 under . Neither did I realize or guess that we shared so much in common... in addition to our sugar maple roots and interests! Both she and I are involved in art.
We both had copied AY Jackson's "Scarlet Maples" at a very early age... and share a deep love of the Canadian Group of Seven painters. We both love and are addicted to Gordon Lightfoot's music... especially his song from his award-winning album "The Summer Side of Life" aptly entitled Maple Music. And did you know that Moxy Fruvous' hit... Maple Syrup Trees was written by Pete Seeger?.... And that Pete taps sugar maples himself?

"How sweet it is!.... This Universe of ours... and small too! It just goes to show you that everything isn't simply "black and white". There exists a" lot of grey"in Life... that we fail to see or understand. Life is about reaching out... risking... being open to share and to new learning opportunities. In this fashion... Life remains purposeful... exciting... challenging and rewarding... right up to the end of our time here.

Life is about choice. One should put the Past to rest... it's forever gone. Embrace the moment as "You" are able. Look to the Future... but only to set goals. It will arrive... and pass as well... despite worry... or whining complaint. Being with the McCutcheon family... even for just a few days in Spring puts life truly in the proper perspective for "Me". Each of us makes choices that offer possible Rewards.... or Consequences. Life does bring and Prosperity... and with it Joy. But also Adversity... and with that state... Depression and Sadness. Life is always about paradox. How we choose to lead our lives is our responsibility alone... even in partnerships. It is NEVER too late to be the person... or be in the place you always desired to visit... or live in.

Shakespeare said it ever so well in Hamlet:

To be... or not to be. That is the question."

And for each one of us... on our own terms and by our own will... it is!
Me thinks... that "I" be finished ... and need only end... by adding some "black and white" sketches to wrap things up in this post. The last two quick sketches represent a traditional bush operation and McCutcheon's modern gas fired operation. The first image is a pointillism study from 1977... the second a test linocut image... to match the poem below... inspired by the New Sugar Moon and of the Spring which we are just experiencing. It will soon become the subject of a larger painting. But that's another story... for another day... and post! Stay tuned...
I truly hope that I have infused some "Maple Magic" into each of your lives... and that you have a better understanding of where that sticky stuff on your pancakes comes from! Do drop by Carley's wonderful Sugar maple site as linked in the lines above. You'll find more facts and recipes... the list is long and interesting! Way to go Carley! If you're in the area per chance... drop by McCutcheons and tell them that Bruce sent you... and to treat you .... sweetly!

A Sugar Moon

Moonlight falls the length of the sugar maple stand
Guarding with silence until the return of Spring.
Somber silhouettes in the winter night,
Their arms reaching... thrusting into the inky blackness
In the vain hope of capturing the celestial disc.

The now deserted shanty waits patiently
The return of excited the voices of those...
Who pass the long nights
Sharing labour... and laughter.
Again this Spring perhaps?
Not likely.

Not again.
Paradise lost.
Sadly... forever.

Dec. 14th, 2006

Good Painting!... and Happy Spring to ALL!


  1. Oh, Bruce, this mornings breakfast was waffles and, yes, that's right Maple Syrup. Delish. Love your ink sketches. Your blog has such a great and positive influence on me and hopefully everyone who visits this blog.

    Thank you and I look forward to your next post.

    All the best to you and the McCutcheons.


  2. Hi there Joan!... Glad to hear... and see... from your newly posted sailboat piece... that "You" have gotten some Spring into your step... and art!HAHA!!!

    Nothin' like a feed of flapjacks or waffles n REAL maple syrup to get the day off to a great start!

    Strange... I so love colour... but I have cravings for black and white from time to time... and find that working with it has a calming effect makes "Me" slow down ... and think. As well... I love the strong contrast between the two poles of perception!

    Good Painting to "You"... and I will pass on your greetings when I see them upon my return!
    Warmest regards,

  3. hi again, bruce! how nice to come home at the end of a long workday to such an uplifting read! i feel the need to continue pointing out our similarities; i also have a teaching background, dabble in painting, and have a deep seeded love of poetry (both reading and writing). many "intersections', as you say. love the inclusion of the "sugar moon" poem -- i may have to steal that, haha!

    thanks for passing along my blog info to your friends too. it's not nearly as dedicated as what you've put together here, but it IS fun to share.

    i hope you have a wonderful and safe trip. it'll be a whole new landscape here when you return (with any luck).


  4. Hi there Carley!... So very nice to hear from you again! Glad to hear that you are enjoying our conversations and "connections"... as much as I am!

    We'll have to share/compare notes... er maybe that should read lines! HAHA!

    Blogging really is an enjoyable past time... and a marvelous way to meet... and share with kindred spirits!

    I'll come over when we get back and bring you a copy of A Sugar Moon... and one of the linocut prints.

    Good luck with the run!Hi to the rest of the gang for me!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Bruce, sometimes it just seems like you are talking to me. Words of wisdom, of life, of beauty (if we but open our eyes to see)...It all come through your posts. I so enjoy them!

  6. Dear Sherry!... It gives me pleasure to know that my posts cause you to reflect upon the state of your own world... and that perhaps these posts might inspire other people who value the good things in life: Family... Children...Art and the precious gift of life that we are blessed to enjoy in the Western World.

    It is always my pleasure to visit your site as well... for in doing so I feel less alone in facing my own similar trials and challenges. Your words are as comforting to "Me"... as mine are to "You"! Thank you for sharing your thoughts... feelings and ideas so openly!

    Good Painting...Writing... and Happy Spring!
    Warmest regards,