Finding Your Roots Again

Written by Savannah Shultz


On the Shultz Family Maple Farm the family works together to harvest sap and make their famous and delicious syrup. However, when the family strays from their family’s tradition of harvesting the sap, the trees dry up. Then young Maple comes up with an idea of how to bring their forest back to life.

Keywords: sap, axe, reed, grateful, generations, traditions

On a farm, not a normal farm, a maple tree farm, a family tends to the trees and cares for one another. The farm is called Shultz Maple Farm and it provides the maple for the whole town. The Shultz family has had this farm in their family for generations and now it is Father, Mother, David the oldest brother, Hidi the oldest sister, Trevor and Tinley the twins, and Maple the youngest of the siblings, who tend the farm. The whole family works on the maple trees. Mother and father work all day and the children work after school into the night and on the weekends all day.

“Time for school!” Mother yells up the stairs, acting as all the children’s alarm clock.

After a moment of rolling around in their beds and complaining about being tired, they all roll out of bed one by one. Then it is a fight for the bathroom.

However, clever Maple stays in her room to get ready. There is no fighting and she is able to have the whole room and mirror to herself, where she can tie her bows in her two braids.

“Maple, you are not going to have time for breakfast!” Mother yells up the stairs one last time.

“Coming Mom!” Maple yells as she runs down the stairs.

The spread looks as though Mother has been up for hours, and she made the family’s favorite, maple syrup oatmeal, with strawberries and bananas. She also had all the lunches packed and cleaned up after cooking. Father was strapping his boots up getting ready to head to the farm as mother was preparing the lunch they would both have in the middle of the forest.

Finally, Mother sat down and poured herself a cup of tea and added drops of our family’s maple syrup. We use our syrup in anyway we can, so does everyone in our town. Bill comes at the end of every week to pick up the supply we sell at the store in town, which is always sold out by Wednesday. Father looks at last week’s report of the selling of the maple syrup.

“We have to spend more time in the forest today. The town needs more syrup and we barely have any for ourselves,” father says disappointedly.

“We have been spending more time and drying up more trees faster than ever before,” mother says with worry.

“It will be fine, we just need to go deeper. David, make sure you and all your siblings meet us at the west ridge of the forest after school. Please don’t lolly-gag after school we need all hands on deck this week,” father says as he finished his coffee and stands up to ready the truck to head to work.

“Yes, Dad, and Mom, don’t worry, we will stay late with Dad to help,” David says cheerfully.

Mother nods. She then turns to start packing up the book bags and handing them to all of us after we all finish up eating. Father walks out the door.

“I’ll pack us all a supper to have tonight at work. Maybe some maple banana muffins?” Mother says with a bright smile.

“That sounds great Mom!” Maple shouts. The children begin to head to school.

That day after school everyone begins the long walk to the west ridge, which is past the house. From the house, school is about a mile and a half walk, and the west ridge from school is about 2 miles. The whole walk the children talk about their school days and play eye spy.

Once they all get to the forest there is no wasted time to begin the search for trees that don’t have fresh axe holes. For generations the Shultz family only uses family made tools including the axe, reed and buckets. This is because the family has always made it from natural things made from the earth so there is no harm to the trees.

Trevor and Tinely are walking along the 4th row of trees and notice something. Trevor yells out, “Dad! Someone is stealing our sap! They put in metal reeds in 3 of our trees!”

Tinely follows in suit shouting with worry, “And it looks like the buckets are really full! They have probably been here for hours!”

“No, those are ours. I have not had time to make more supplies and when need as much maple as we can get from the trees,” father explains. “I have more in the back of the truck that we need to put in the trees.”

“But Dad, we are only supposed to use our tools. Remember Grandma’s story says that if you respect the trees and don’t use harmful tools the syrup with always flow,” Maple says with worry.

“Maple, your father is doing his best. Just do as he says,” mother says with a soft encouraging voice.

At the end of the week, the buckets had no more than a couple of drips each day. The trees where drying up and some were even dying. Father did not even have time to give the trees fertilizer. On Sundays, father would always have the family say a whole prayer for the forest. However, this Sunday father did not show gratitude for the forest. There was too much disappointment from the lack of sap.

Another week went by with no sap. The family stopped going to the forest, to see if waiting would help. The town began to wonder if they would ever taste the delicious Shultz maple syrup again. Sitting in school one day Maple’s teacher was teaching the children importance of being grateful for each other and treating everyone with respect. The class also talked about how without respect you can’t expect to get anything from anyone.

This made Maple begin to think about how father stopped their family’s tradition that went back generations of respecting the forest that gave them so much. She wanted to show the forest respect again, and maybe the forest will give back the sap.

That night Maple said the prayer for the forest just like her father use to do, and all the generations before that. After school every day that week, Maple went and took away all the new tools father had brought into the forest, and she threw them away. She also fed the trees and continued with a prayer every night to hopefully help.

After a week Maple asked father if she could come with him when he checked on the forest. Even though father did not see the point, he let Maple tag along. On the ride there, Maple told father what she had been doing in the forest. Father was not upset but did not understand why or think that it would make a difference.

“We learned in school that you have to respect things that you want something from,” Maple explained.

“Well, then maybe we should say a prayer before we go look?” father asked and Maple agreed. They said the prayer before getting out of the truck.

When walking up to the biggest tree in the forest, they saw it shining in the sun. They began to fill with excitement. Father took out his axe, the one he had made and always used, and cut a hole in the bark. When he put in his reed, sap came flooding out. Maple shoved the bucket under the reed.

“Maple, it worked! You were right!” Father said as he grabbed Maple and hugged her so tightly.

“No the trees did it!” Maple exclaimed. “Thank you trees!”

“HAHA! Yes! Thank you trees!” Father had a smile so big.

From then on they stuck to the ways of respecting the trees and praying for the forest. For generations this story was told, to remind the family that the trees will provide the sap as long as they are respected.


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Humanizing Science through STEAM Challenges Copyright © 2021 by E.J. Bahng and John M. Hauptman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.