I need a new chain for the big saw, so I drive three miles up and over the mountain to the chainsaw repair and parts business our neighbor Mike recently bought from our other neighbor Scott. When Scott owned it, I could be there in under two minutes; now, it’s about five, or maybe a little more this time of year, when the mountain road – steep, twisty, heavily snowed – demands a very particular medley of restraint and aggression, particularly in our little two-wheel drive car, which is what I’m driving in part because the truck is in Minnesota with my wife, and in part because one of the small pleasures in my small life is clearing the snow-slick apex of the mountain road in a vehicle that’s ill suited to the task. I keep thinking I’ll grow out of it, but it keeps not happening.
At the shop I buy two chains for $15 each and a half-gallon of Mike’s excellent B grade maple syrup for $20. John and Mike and I stand and chat for a while, then Katie and Christian show up, and we all stand and chat for a while longer. Sugaring. Chainsaws. Concrete contractors. Outside, the sun is emerging. The temperature, already above freezing, is rising further. It’s going to be a very nice day, and I need to go, but really all I want to do is stay a while longer, to keep telling stories, keep listening to stories. I feel suddenly hungry for stories, starving for them, even the little ones. Maybe especially the little ones. The world seems so full of big stories. Too big for me to understand.
I really do need to go. I set my jug of syrup and my two new chains on the passenger seat of the car and head back down the mountain road. The car slips and slides through the corners. I’m thinking about getting home, stoking the fire, maybe pancakes. Town meeting. I like town meeting.
But that’s a story for another day.