This is my Grandmother Tree. She is an ancient Maple that stands near my house. Several of her largest branches have been broken off in wind storms over the past few years, but she is still here.
She watched over my father as he played around her trunk as a child, and she has watched over my children as well. I walk past her often on my way to my Summer Kitchen, and I can feel her loving gaze upon me.
I placed my hands upon her today and sat peacefully within her presence. I could feel her life flowing within her. Quietly she stands, silently preparing for the rush of spring.
She was preparing for this spring all of last summer. And even though she appears lifeless with her bare branches, life surges within her.
Winter was a period of rest and reflection for her. A time where she regains her much needed energy for the season ahead.
As Spring is now here, the weather is settling out, and the temperatures are climbing above zero during the day.
All of these elements create the perfect conditions for the Maple sap to flow, and Nature never misses her cue, her timing always perfect.
It is when the weather warms during the day but still freezes at night which creates pressure within the tree, forcing the sap to flow within the outer layers to help feed the newly forming buds. Sap never actually freezes, as the high sugar content acts like antifreeze.
Nature knows that with the warm weather, it is time to form buds, and so she begins her process of nourishing these buds with the nutritious sap that was created by the photosynthesis process of the leaves from the previous year.
The Native peoples were the first to make use of Nature's gifts, often tapping the Birch trees as well for their nutritious sap. Sap was a priceless resource for vitamins, minerals, and valuable enzymes.
Several years ago, I decided to try tapping the Maple trees in my yard. With my dad's help, we drilled holes and inserted our homemade spigots. I had milk jugs hanging from about a dozen trees with anticipation of sweet syrup.
I really had no idea what to expect, which is why my husband affectionately refers to this experience as the "Maple Syrup Fiasco of 2013."
I had no idea that each of my mature trees would run at least a gallon of syrup a day, or that it would take boiling down at least 12 gallons of sap to create a gallon of syrup.
We had a stove set up in our garage, and hot plates as well. All of the burners were on the go, and several pots were sacrificed when I forgot to check on them in time and the bottoms became scorched.
But the sap was amazing. Even though my yard does not have the traditional Sugar Maples of the East Coast, our prairie Manitoba Maple still has delicious sap which boiled down to tasty syrup.
I was amazed at the clarity of the sap that dripped out of my trees. I have never drank anything as refreshing either. Light, cold, with a subtly sweet and "woody" taste. I felt as though I was drinking straight from Mother Earth herself.
I never tapped after that first year. Not that I didn't enjoy it, but I learned that it was a lot of work and took a lot of time that I just do not have. I am considering tapping maybe one tree this year just so that I may enjoy the sap.
The holes have since healed over in all of my trees. I am always amazed and grateful to Nature for her many gifts that she so willingly gives. She takes nothing from us and will give everything. I have read that there are trees that people have been tapping for over 100 years.
There is much that we can learn from trees;
That every stage of life and every phase of our seasons are important.
The rest, the awakening, the creation and bursting forth with new life, the "work" and preparation, and again, the rest.
How to prepare ourselves for the seasons ahead and to grow, but also to remember the importance of rest and reflection, otherwise we will run out of energy and resources to make it through our next season.
By taking care of ourselves, we are able to share what we have with others.
And that we can give of ourselves without asking anything or expecting anything in return.
Thank you to the Trees.