Maple Seeds




Often, when I start to write, I feel pulled in several directions. At times, I want to take stock; to place myself, my current mood, idea or concern on the page. It feels necessary, somehow, to locate myself. And sometimes I resist all that and move instead into what feels most alive, as I did yesterday morning, in response to a poem. Here’s what I wrote:


There are good lines in there. I could write to them. I could record a snippet of something real. And I believe that would help me. The way the sun spotlights last year’s faded maple seeds – those little helicopter wings that we watch circle, tossing one up in the air and then another to see them spin lazily down, down. The kid in me, in all of us, loves that stuff. Like blowing bubbles.


But it was the sun, the light that stopped me. So let me circle back. Let the maple key reverse its path and circle back up, up to my hand holding another two or three of them. Let my hands gently re-join the seed with its twin, and lift the pair back up to the branch I tugged them from; listen for the reverse of that little “snap” heard as they broke from the tree.


Look again at the crowded cluster of maple samaras hanging on the branch in their faded, coppery tint. Notice they aren’t faded or dull at all but vivid in the spring sun. See how sunlight, when shot through those paper-thin wings, reveals intricate patterns of veins like those of a dragonfly’s wing. Take in the glowing seeds, hanging like a colony of sleeping bats, ready to release and fly; to extend life all around this part of our amazing planet.


It pulls you up, doesn’t it? That moment of noticed beauty. The light. There you are in the heavy darkness that grounds your feet and weighs on your shoulders; that casts your eyes downwards while your brain circles, looking for a solution, a way out of your restless, heavy funk. And then, you lift your eyes for a moment. When the split second of interest hits you, you give it its due. You stop what you’re doing, stop re-playing the same old worries and look. Look closer. You’re drawn to it. And you follow that instinct to see, to appreciate, to feel joy.


Vitality, there in front of you. And a little, just a little taste of it, tickles and grows in you, like the movement of sap in a spring-warmed tree. You and this maple tree. In the sun. Illuminated. Your winter dullness transformed. Your dedicated, unwavering life force, lit. Painted bright by sunlight. Life moving, pulled along your vascular systems. Veins and arteries, xylem and phloem. Blood. Sap. You and the maple tree. Coming back to life.

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