The trees have stopped sharing their sap for the time being. Temperatures have soared into the 70s, the maple buds are swelling, the pussy willows have flowered, peepers are singing their hearts out in the vernal waters, the daffodils are shining, the ramps are carpeting the woods, and the turkeys are on parade. All of these events are woven together, one taking its cue from the next. Although we can't see the bonds, the interplay is obvious. The tapestry of life.
This time of year is always poignant for me as it marks the passing of my father--10 years on today's date. His unexpected passing came as a huge shock to all of us--his heart apparently stopping without notice or disease. My father raised prize-winning Alpine dairy goats. Spring is kidding season. On April 11, 2011, he left behind a pair of newly born kids, colostrum-filled bottles to feed them, and a barn full of expectant does. He had completed chores and left with a smooth hand-off. Yet unavoidably, the ending of his string in our tapestry was left for us to knot and continue on. The absence of just one life can show just how important it is within the larger design. In this case, my father's departure revealed the depth and richness of his connection to my mother, a connection between them which to the outside eye had perhaps lost the high-gloss of a newer love. We--the progeny--had seen the routine between them, the knowing acknowledgments and pointing out of flaws, the deep familiarity. We didn't see the interdependence, the life-sustaining qualities of their connection and love. After my father's passing, we saw my mother wither with grief which has not abated, the wind dropped from her sails. She now voices, almost daily, my father's finer qualities: his humor, his integrity, his abiding affection for nature, cultivation, and his family. We no longer hear echoes of frustration that he tracked in hay from the barn.
I later realized the perspective gained was a gift in some ways--this more nuanced view on my parents that may have gone unrecognized otherwise. A friend of mine lost both parents in their early 70s in a motor vehicle accident. They weren’t ill or even declining. After vibrant lives which grew a family and improved the public interest, they were just gone on an early December day. My friend described their love for their grandchildren but expressed doubt about their love for one another; not their commitment, but perhaps their romantic love. As much as my friend suffered a tragic, unexpected loss with their double passing, there was also a loss of seeing the layers of their love revealed in a slower deconstruction. My parents, together for nearly 50 years, had, like my friend’s parents, also perhaps lost the conspicuous romance. What wasn’t visible to a grown child, I’ve come to realize, was the depth of their entanglement, the web of their love below the surface, hidden from the view of their children. This is the greater love and support that grows over time.
These less apparent attachments permeate and undergird all of nature. For example, the forest hides the deep attachments, communications, and symbiosis of its tree species. When a swath of trees is removed by man or by nature, it is not uncommon to see the next wave fall behind them over time—the decomposing roots of their kin robbing them of support and protection. But as threads end, Mother Nature keeps weaving with the material she has--the beauty of the design indisputable, although the developing pattern may be unexpected.
As syrup season shifts to profiling the gifts provided by the trees, we are grateful for the perspective Tapatree syrups provide. The season was fast, but with a smooth ramp up, yielding a lovely progression of flavors unique to 2021. The forest is needing all of its resilience to weather the warming climate. Our fates are woven together, and by respecting the beauty of all aspects, may we be stronger and more resilient. My father would approve.
Happy spring, all--enjoy every breeze, every flower, and everything in between.