When temperatures rise above freezing during the day but still drop below at night, trees in the northeast take this as a signal to wake from their long winter sleep. Sap rises, coursing up through their trunks. For those of us so inclined, we insert taps in the trunks from which to hang buckets. Commercial operations use vacuum tubing, but on our farm we still do it the old fashioned way. Here’s why:
Listening to Sugar Maples
Each year at this time of freezing and thawing
when we trudge through reluctant snowdrifts
to stand at the base of the tall straight trunks, tapped,
I stop after filling my two buckets to thank you, and you, and you.
And as if in answer, upon re-hanging the bucket on your breast
from a miniature metal sluiceway, you respond with a drip, drip,
drip, drip, like rapid heartbeats.
You teach us the quiet skill of listening
in communion with each other.
We know now that you send
through your roots and tendrils, mycelium messages
of who’s coming, of danger near or far, or if one of you
needs nourishment or, (dare I say?) comfort.
What can we give you in return
for part of your perennial life-blood,
so sweet in the aftermath of boiling,
on breakfast pancakes or ice cream after dinner?
We humans are cravers of sweets
but stop! Wonder at the foot of the source!
Thank the trees for their naked offerings
rising each spring, whether or not we’re listening.
Thank the ordinary nature of things
and listen before it’s too late.
When did you last stop in Nature to listen? What did you hear?