Maple trees and people

The climactic conditions this spring where I live in Ottawa, Canada, have led to an unusual profusion of maple tree seedlings. Every avid gardener I know has grumbled about the high number of baby maples sprouting in flower beds, between interlock, or throughout lawns. I let the crop in my back yard grow to demonstrate:


It got me to thinking about maple trees and people.

We Canadians are known for maples, and in my neighbourhood, I’m surrounded by all varieties. The silver maple in my backyard towers tall, spreads wide and turns such a vibrant yellow in the fall that the sun’s reflection into our home makes it look like our lights are on full. A sugar maple in the park behind our house turns a stunning crimson red. If we tapped it we could make sweet maple syrup to feed ourselves. Down the street a couple of houses, two maples have orange/yellow leaves in the fall. The children that live in the house rake them up into huge piles and then jump in them. “Whee!”

But the Manitoba maple down the street is not my friend. My neighbour calls it a “weed maple.” I tear out unwanted baby Manitoba maples all summer long. And the maple across the street doesn’t turn a beautiful colour in the fall. Its leaves just shrivel up and drop; it makes work for other people without providing any beauty first.

I know some people like that.

I know some people who make work for others without giving anything back. I know people who spread unwanted messages out to the world that others have to try to avoid. Usually it’s impossible to avoid them all, so people need to pluck the invasive “seeds” from their lives.

I know people who tower tall, spread wide and shine with such brilliance they make us feel like the lights in a room are on full. I know people who glow with unusual beauty and who feed others. I know people who, just by being who they are, make life fun.

I like that our Canadian flag features the sugar maple: the plant, like our country, is both beautiful and useful.  

What kind of maple are you?


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