Elliot picked himself up
off the ground and looked down in dismay at the front of his jacket and
jeans. They were now camouflaged with leaves, clinging to the sticky
maple sap which he had dumped when he tripped and fell. He felt like
crying, but didn't dare. He knew his brothers were near, and they would
give him a hard enough time about dumping a whole bucket of sap without
adding the further impropriety of crying.
Elliot was smaller than most ten-year-old boys, but not by much. He
just seemed smaller next to his older brothers who were actually a bit
larger for their age, and they often took advantage of Elliot's
diminutive stature, teasing him, playing tricks on him. Not that they
were mean, they were just boys.
Roger was the eldest. At fifteen, he was muscular, almost husky without
giving the appearance of being overweight. His dark hair, dark eyes and
olive skin gave him a Mediterranean look which he got from his father.
He had an outgoing, ambitious nature which at times could be so strong
as to make him intimidating to others, including Elliot. But Elliot
also knew that Roger could be a loyal and trustworthy friend.
Jerry was born a year after Roger, and had many of Roger's physical
features, only toned down a bit. His hair was dark brown but with
russet highlights, and his eyes were a couple of shades darker than
hazel. He had a more trim physique than Roger, though he was still
muscular. While outgoing, he had a better feel than his older brother
for when it became intimidating or insulting to others, so he stopped
short of that.
Elliot, on the other hand, had more of the physical and emotional
features of his mother. His hair was light brown — dishwater blonde was
the term he had heard, and hated instantly. His eyes were blue and his
skin was fair. That, combined with his smaller build and more quiet
nature made him seem more like a visiting neighbour child than the
brother of Roger and Jerry Logan.
Elliot, along with his brothers, were born in Littlefield, a picture
postcard of a town nestled in the Berkshires of northwestern
Massachusetts. For generations, the Logans owned several acres of maple
forest, and while they were not wealthy, they did live quite
comfortably. Aside from taxes and such, they owed nothing on their
property, and each summer they planted a large, beautiful, well-tended
garden which provided all the vegetables they needed. Most years, their
father, Tony, brought home a deer, various birds and rabbits which
supplied a large portion of their meat.
But their primary claim to fame, at least locally, was their "special
recipe" maple syrup. While there really was not much involved in their
recipe since maple syrup is simply boiled-down sugar maple sap, their
syrup was definitely different from others on the market, thanks to the
careful blend of spice oils added during the processing. Tony was proud
of their product and sold it to individuals from Littlefield and other
neighbouring towns, and to local restaurants. "Logan Farms Special
Recipe Maple Syrup" was well-known in these parts.
The whole family got involved when the sap was running. The boys did
most of the gathering, monitoring the pails hanging from the spiles,
the taps on the trees, and bringing them in when they were full. Tony
was considering installing a more modern system. Elliot didn't
understand much about it except that it involved tubing and a vacuum.
But for now, they did it the old fashioned way. Elliot loved this part
of it. Not that he enjoyed the work so much, but he was happiest when
he was out in the woods.
He loved wildlife and became familiar with the various birds which were
abundant in the area. In fact, he was so alert to spotting wildlife
that it often distracted him from his work. Such was the case today.
Rabbits were nothing new to Elliot, but an entire family of them was
not something he saw every day. However, he did not see it for long
today either, for the moment he tripped on the fallen branch and the
metal pail he had been carrying fell noisily beneath him, the rabbits
scampered quickly away. Now Elliot knew he would have to hear his
father's lecture about paying more attention to what he's doing, about
not being so easily distracted. He picked up his sticky bucket and
headed for home, wanting to get it over with.
© 2008 Kelly Cheek