Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ode to the Maple Tree

Fall just isn't complete without a toasty mug of cider and a walk through the crunchy saffron and terracotta maple leaves. Before the last leaf falls, I wanted to send out my Ode to Maple trees. Ironically enough, this inspiration came dually from a stroll outdoors and a visit to the library-another favorite haunt. In my quest for a  book to accompany my "snuggy-wearing-soup-eating" mood, I unearthed one specifically dedicated to meanings and mythologies of trees!
Aptly named "The Meaning of Trees" by Fred Hagender, I've paraphrased some interesting points for you mythological botanistical enjoyment.

  • In Europe, spring Maple leaves were delicacies added to salads

  • The Salteaux Tribe tells a tale of how the blaze-colored autumn Maple leaves saved Nanahboozhoo's (the Creator) grandmother from evil spirits of the darkness. He was so grateful that he showed the tribe how to collect maple sap without harming the tree.

  • According to Roman grammarian Servius, the Trojan horse had been made of maple so it was thought that the Maple tree was bad luck.

  • The Iroquois have a legend that explains how Ursa Major "the Great Bear" came into the sky and why Maple leaves are red. It is said that three hunters went hunting for a giant bear called Nyahgwaheh. The three chased him to the top of a mountain where Alioth killed him with his bow and arrow. Mizar had carried the pot to cook it and Alcor (also a star) made the fire. The hunters eat and as they were resting see sparkling lights swirl around them and before they know it they are not on the mountain but up in the sky. The bones sprang back to life and the hunters chased after him where they all remain today in the constellation Ursa major. Every fall they kill the bear and his blood falls from the heavens and covers the leaves, turning them scarlet.

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