Wow (with-out words) Moments
We just tapped our last maple trees for this season and the forecast calls for a continuation of the great sugaring weather we have had – cold nights and warmer days. This has been a wonderful year for collecting and boiling sap, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our tapping time here at camp and throughout our nearby communities.
Maple Sugaring is, by far, our most popular public program. Perhaps it is the getting out-of-doors after a long winter; participating in the seasonal rhythm and change; learning something you can do at home as a family; enjoying that ‘amber aristocrat of all sweets’ – maple syrup. The first part of our program is indoors, learning about the history and biology of maple trees and syrup, how to identify maples, tools needed, etc. Then with high expectations the whole group marches over to an untapped sugar maple. Surrounded by a very quiet circle of people of all ages, with drill in hand, I start to slowly drill at a slight upward angle and say to myself, “Oh, please let it have been cold enough last night and warm enough right now for the sap to drip!” That quiet hush is still over the crowd, and after about 10 seconds of drilling we notice the bark beneath the hole getting wet. It’s a dripping day! There is laughter, some chattering and then a deep silence again as I take the drill out and begin to hammer in the spout. Once it’s in one can feel the charge in the air as the crowd waits for that first ‘official’ drop of sap from the spout. It comes slowly down the spout, seems to wait an extra second hanging at the spout’s edge and then falls to the ground. There is an audible gasp from the crowd. And many exclamations of ‘wow!’.
Sometimes there are no words to express what we are experiencing. We can’t find them or we feel they wouldn’t do justice to what is happening. I interpret ‘wow’ as ‘with-out words’. Words are symbols, not the real thing or event, and words sometimes only lessen the experience of reality. Rumi says that “words are like fingers pointing to the moon and we think that they are the moon.”
Along the same line, Vincent Van Gogh said, “It is not the language of painters but the language of flowers which one should listen to, the feelings for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feelings for pictures.”
At The Nature Place we fervently believe in providing opportunities for children and adults to experience many ‘wow’ moments, magic moments, and the world of nature is certainly teeming with wonder for us all.
So we go from Rumi to Van Gogh and now to Calvin and Hobbes:
We look into Calvin and Hobbes trudging, sled in hand, through newly fallen snow.
Calvin: Wow, it really snowed last night! Isn’t it wonderful?
Hobbes: Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand-new!
Calvin: A new year.. a fresh clean start!
Hobbes: It’s like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on!
Calvin: A day full of possibilities!
Calvin: It’s a magical world Hobbes, ol’ Buddy…
… and as they both are sitting on the sled, going down a hill, Calvin says, “…lets’ go exploring!”
And I invite you all to come exploring with us.