It is the most wonderful time of the year! For many of you, you may be wondering how I completely missed Christmas, but I am not talking about Christmas. I am talking about maple sapping season!!

Every year we go to the woods, drill, hammer, taps, hose and buckets in hand, waiting to see what we will get from Santa…ah, sapping season. It’s like waiting for Santa. The anticipation, the oooh, and ahhh’s when we see what we’re getting, the joy that comes with the first sampling of each year’s bounty. It is truly a season of magic.

Thank heavens the neighbors can’t hear me from the road; talking to the trees, thanking them, telling them what an incredible job they are doing. Reminding them that it’s ok, not everyone is a sapper and they are still beautiful. I hug them (I honestly don’t care what the neighbors think, and they’re mostly used to me), we talk, good talks. They’re great huggers, and listeners.

I am currently reading the book Braiding Sweetgrass and as I have always talked to the trees, it takes on an even deeper meaning this year. In the wisdom of this book the author tells the story of “Skywoman” who fell to the earth with nothing but a pocketful of seeds and from there created all that we have in the natural world. The author, a scientist and a Native American, tells the story of how the sap runs at the perfect time of year to give the indigenous people hope and sustenance as they survive the long winters with last year’s harvest of plants already consumed, and little to keep the animals and people alive until the greens of spring start to grow for them.

She tells that, as time went on, people would lie beneath the maple trees and drink the syrup that flowed and the Great Spirit saw their laziness and so added water to the syrup so that people would have to honor the trees for what they produced, by working to heat and boil down the sap to get the syrup.

It is an exchange of energy; the trees’ energy for the people’s energy. The author refers to it as reciprocity. That nothing comes at zero costs, and so we must give, not out of some martyrish sacrifice of “look at how hard I have to work,” but out of our own recognition that we are gaining something so in balance, we should give something. It is the viewpoint of great equality, and I have fallen in a sort of love with this philosophy.

My own science brain wonders as this season progresses why some days certain trees give more sap than the ones next to them, only to find that the next week they flip flop and the neighboring trees give more. I know there is this great network of roots and communications that run between the trees (info nerds read Finding The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard) and it makes me wonder what reciprocal collaboration they have between one another.

More than anything, what strikes me is that this is precisely how nature gets enough to take care of itself and in doing so, takes care of all others. And it makes me wonder, what if we as humans took up a mindset of reciprocity? That if we asked what we are giving for what we take, that there could indeed be balance, equality and enough for everyone, in everything.

I wonder if we are willing to learn from nature, what we could accomplish as the human components of nature. We are after all, a part of nature. We are part of the animal kingdom. It is not an “us” and “it”, it is all us.

So what could we learn? What then could we practice together? What, after all, would we be willing to give, for what we receive?

I wish I had all the answers, but as a Spirit driven dirty hippie with a science brain, I have more questions than answers.

A friend of mine years ago looked at me and asked “what color is the sky in your world, Anne?”

It’s mostly rose colored…

I believe in people, and maple trees, and Christmas in the spring…and reciprocity.

What do you believe?


Forever the journey, Anne

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