The art of lollygagging

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Apr 08, 2021

lol·ly·gag·ging: to spend time idly; loaf.

It’s one of those wonderful words from my childhood that you never hear anymore. I have long ago mastered the art of lollygagging.

So today, I put the should do's on the back burner and went off lollygagging. I took myself and Mr T. (my Shiba) off on a meander down our favorite dirt road lined by forest and birds out in Waldo — and right now, it still has nearly undrivable sections deep in snot-slippery mud. We soaked up the sun, we stopped at the stream and watched a water ballet, with great flapping of wings on the water by a flock of returning Canada geese, honking and squawking, reveling at being back home in Maine.

They flock up and fly north and south together but will soon split up, couple by couple, for the coves and crannies where they each come back to raise a new family. They mate for life and will stay pretty much in their separate family group until the goslings are big enough to join in with the group.

The sun shining down with a hint of getting warmer day by day was a bonus.

Spring, and again in fall, the geese all start grouping up again in preparation for their long flights north or south. It’s a great time to find a gathering place and sit quietly until they forget you’re there and then watch their water play.

I left Waldo, came back to Morrill and tooled on up to the “Simmons and Daughters” sugaring barn on Weymouth Road to get a jug of "Sweet Water." I got a jug of their maple syrup last week, but the sap wasn’t running good because of this season's on-again, off-again weather. They had had a few days of "good run" and then the weather turned sour again and it’s not much better today. But the gentleman in charge went out back to a tree and brought back a pail with enough clear sap for me to get two half-gallon Mason jars full, along with some ole-Maine traditional jawing. And he generously gifted the sap to me.

We kids on Tucker Ridge, many long years ago, had our own bucket on a sugar maple out back of the farmhouse, with a dipper hanging next to the pail. Remember dippers? We could get a dipper-full of the Sweet Water any time of the day.

You can tap birch trees also, even boiling it down into syrup. I have a bottle that my sweet daughter brought me. However, birch trees are more vulnerable than maples. They can’t withstand heavy tapping. And the syrup isn’t quite as tasty as from the sugar maples.

That said, the birch tree is a miracle medicine tree. The most acclaimed part is the Chaga mushroom, looking like some cancerous black growth that grows on some birch trees and now being rediscovered for its use as a coffee-like drink hat has been used "forever" for home remedies. It is especially touted for its immune-boosting properties and is found mostly in northern Maine, eastern Ontario and Russia.

Anyway, I am really savoring my maple sap. It’s clear as water and except for a tiny difference also tastes like water. Scientists are now finding out that maple sap has beneficial health properties. Antioxidants are, perhaps, the most valuable.

But for me, the most valuable “ingredient” is that it puts my mind back to those long-ago years with my brother under our maple tree.

As to lollygagging, I don’t consider it spending time "idly.” Remember: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.

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