Maple sap flows like water with only a trace of sweetness to remind the people both of possibility and of responsibility… It is our work, and our gratitude, that distills it.

Robin Wall Kimmerer

In an origin story from the people of the Great Lakes, Sky Woman falls from the Sky World in a shaft of light, swirling like a maple leaf, to an ancient planet covered in water. She is the original immigrant, pregnant and alone. She has a gift to offer – a branch filled with all the seeds of nature. A flock of geese breaks her fall and brings her to rest on the back of a turtle. A muskrat gives its life to bring her a handful of mud to spread on the turtle’s back and plant her seeds in. With gratitude for their loving welcome, she dances the earth into being.

This moon is called the Maple Sugar Moon, because it signaled that, although there was still snow on the ground and her branches were bare, the maple tree was offering her sap to care for the people and sustain them until spring. A transformation to gratitude can happen within us when we shift our grammar – stop referring to beings in the living world as “it” – and use “she” instead to acknowledge our kinship. Robin Waller Kimmerer suggests Ki (pronounced key) the Anishinaabe word for the living earth.

Here are a few lovely rituals you can incorporate into your life to bring gratitude to the forefront.

  • Change Your Grammar: As you tend your garden, prepare, and eat your meals – greet each tender leaf, fruit, root, seed, and sap with the gratitude you give to kin who share their gifts with you for you.
  • Join a Welcoming Committee: Volunteer on behalf of refugees in your community – check out USAHello for some ideas and/or donate on the world stage – you can donate here to HIAS as part of our World Peace and Healing Circle event.
  • Tune-In to the Story: Take this 20-minute virtual guided nature story tour with Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, and then take yourself on a walk with your nature family – inspired by her brilliant perspective.
  • Breakfast for Dinner: Plan a moonlight pancake dinner (with real maple syrup of course) for your friends and family and share some maple syrup origin stories – then watch the moonrise together.
  • Tap a Tree: If you live in the right geography (Michigan, Vermont, New England) you might have a sugar maple in your yard you can tap, visit a maple farm, or Maple syrup festival. Anywhere you live, you can switch out your sweeteners for Maple Syrup and whip up some simple maple snow cones using 1 part shaved ice to 2 parts syrup!