Published on January 25, 2013 by Casey
Told by Bob Red Hawk, Transcribed and translated into Lenape by Margret Lenfest, Edited by Louise St. Amour
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Many, many moons ago one of the most beautiful trees around was the maple. And its roots reached deep into the earth and its branches reached high in the heavens. But at one time, a large group of bugs crawled into the maple’s bark. And it was itching the maple. It was driving the maple tree crazy. Cause even though the maple tree had many branches and shoots and roots it could not bend down and reach all parts of itself. So it called out to all its friends in the animal kingdom. It called out and said “Can someone please give me some relieve from all this itching.”
So the beaver said “Well maple tree I can probably do it, but if I start chewing on your bark it’ll probably kill you. So that would not help you that much.” And then the little mouse said “Maple tree I can dig down into your roots and get my brothers the voles and the moles and the gophers but we’ll end up starting to kill your roots and that will kill you.” So then the bear said “Well maple tree I have these nice big claws I could start clawing at your bark but that will probably shred you up.” So then they are all trying to think. Finally one of the birds was flying by and it was a flicker. And the flicker said “Well maple tree I have a cousin. How about I get all these guys to come and their beaks are sharp and they can dig in you but they won’t hurt you.” So they called all of his woodpecker friends and they flew over and started pecking at the tree and got all the bugs out of him. The tree was so happy. And everything was going along nicely and all of a sudden for a couple of years there was very little rain. It got very dry and all of the animals were getting very thirsty. The creeks and rivers had all dried up and they did not know where to go.
They were all bemoaning the fact and the maple tree heard them. And the maple tree said “You know the animals helped me the time I was suffering from all those bugs biting me I have an idea.” So hecalled to his friend the flicker again. And said “Flicker you helped me in my time of need I want to help you. Call up your woodpecker buddies again.” So they call the woodpecker buddies. And the maple tree said “Now I want you to peck deep into my bark and then wait for a second and soon some of my sap will run out and you can slake your thirst by drinking my sap.” So the woodpeckers tried it. And when they did the sap flowed from the maple tree.
And that gift saved everybody until the next rain came and they were able to drink from the creeks again. And it was from that gift from the maple to the animals that man learned how to make maple syrup and how to tap those maple trees when the sap runs. Maple syrup was precious because man could make something sweet especially in the winter time time
when there were not berries to pick and no sweet things to eat. That was the time when we really appreciated the gift of the maple tree.