Those of you who have been following along this MooseBoots journal know that I like to tell stories. Someday, I hope to be good at it. A few years ago, at one of the nature classes we attended, we were told an Algonquin legend. This is not my story, it is not from my heritage, yet I feel compelled to tell it. For those whose ancestors have handed this down, thank you for sharing it with me through those you have taught. In the hopes of honor the traditions who passed this story down through untold generations, I tell this story from my memory, in spite of the fact that I could probably Google it and copy it word for word. Here goes ...
Long ago, when the animals could speak and we, the people, could understand, there lived a Great Chief, Glooscap. Glooscap loved the people and cared for them greatly. He protected them from the many Giants that roamed the earth. He taught them the correct ways to live with the earth, to honor the gifts that she gave.
In this time, maple trees did not give maple sap. Maple syrup flowed through the trees. When the people were hungry, they simply tapped the trees and ate their fill of the delicious syrup that nature had provided. It came to pass, however, that the people became complacent. Instead of honor the gift, they simply tapped the trees and lay down under them guzzling the sweet liquid. And so, they became fat and lazy.
One day, Glooscap returned from a hunting trip and saw the people lying about under the spouts on the trees. With his great wisdom and understanding, he knew the danger to the people, even if they did not see it themselves. He also knew that the land needed the people to help support it.
Glooscap called the people to him and taught them that they must not act in this manner. He explained that the earth needed their labor to support its growth and well-being. He also explained that they needed to work and move to keep their bodies healthy. After which, he departed for another hunt.
A week later, Glooscap returned to find the people lying under the maple trees again. This time, he could not contain his anger at the people for their laziness and carelessness. He went to his wigwam, took his largest birch bark basket to the edge of the nearby stream, and filled it with water. He carried the water back to the maples and poured the water into the trees, diluting the syrup into sap.
Knowing that the people still needed this food, he explained to them that the syrup still flowed in the trees, but that it was watered down. In order to gather it, the people would need to collect the sap and boil it to remove the extra water. He knew that to do so, they would need to collect fire wood, make baskets, and such.
And so, to this day, we still gather the sweet sap during the spring flow and boil it into the syrup.
May your days grow longer, may your homes be warmer, and may you find all that you need to be healthy and happy.