Why it’s Okay to Feel Everything
As beautiful as spring is, it doesn’t arrive gently. The transition from late winter into early spring is one of seesawing extremes. Freezing nights and warm afternoons; buckets of rain and the hard snap of ice. Lately, the changing moodiness of early spring seems to match the ebb and swell within me. Like most of the world in the late hours of this pandemic, every day I swing between extremes. One morning I wake up full of birdsong and optimism— and the next I feel clouded again by exhaustion and immobility.
I used to get worried about these down days— will they last forever? Is something wrong with me? Is this the new normal? But now I know that this fluctuation isn’t indicative of my shortcomings, or harder times en route, it is simply how the fresh sap rises.
This year my partner and I tapped the maple trees around our forest-tucked home to make our own syrup. In late January we perched taps into a few stout trees and began collecting. Maple syrup is made from the sugary sap that runs between the tree’s roots and crown in late winter. A rush of minerals and nutrients, this life-giving water flows upwards to nourish the growing buds of spring. To make syrup, you evaporate the sap until you have an amber concoction that looks like gold and tastes like heaven.
Before I began the process, I assumed the best time for catching sap was when the weather got steadily warmer— but the opposite is true. The best sap weather comes from the dramatic seesawing of freezing nights and warm days. In poetry, weather is sometimes likened to the Earth’s feelings. Fresh sap, the waters of life that make the new blooms of spring possible, only flows when there are big ups and downs in the Earth’s emotions.
As we hauled buckets of sap up to our fire to boil it down, or let the sugared water sit overnight to break the clear ice off the top, I reminded myself of this. Mornings when I woke up feeling worried or down after a few days of blessed cheerfulness, I returned to the maple’s teaching.
Every time we go down and come back up again, the life-giving waters of our spirit are called forth. The very nourishment that creates spring, the free flow of new ideas and our inner blossoming, is born from the friction of our natural ups and down. In truth, there is nothing wrong with you for having good days and bad days, for moving between hardship and hope. This is how the roots of the world know it’s time to send an upsurge of nourishment and support. And this is how we tap into the deepest places inside ourselves to find the strength to bloom.
It’s normal in late winter to have ups and downs. In fact, it might be a prerequisite of the season. So whatever you’re feeling, know that there is an innate wisdom behind the peaks and valleys. The body of the Earth knows just how to nourish the growing buds of your being, and the gentler we are with ourselves, the more this organic process of flowering can take hold.
Years ago a friend gifted me a beautiful jar of sap from her trees. I mixed it with essences of the very first flowers of spring, and a new elixir was born. If you’ve ever had the privilege of taking a long draught of fresh sap, you know there is nothing like it. It feels like drinking pure energy straight from the earth. Sweet, cold, light, refreshing— one long drink and you can’t help but bloom.
This year, I felt like we could all use a big dose of fresh sap to reinvigorate our spirits, so the Fresh Sap elixir is back (albeit in limited quantities). Made from a truly special tree on our land— a sugar maple that is nestled between a boulder I call the “gatekeeper stone” and my outdoor altar, this batch of Fresh Sap in infused with powerful refreshment.
I don’t like to play favorites, but this elixir is one of my most beloved medicines. I take it whenever I need a flow of inspiration or hope. I mix some into the water when I clean my house and give drops back to the Earth in moments of gratitude. I made a very limited batch this time around so if you’re interested, come nab a bottle.
Wherever you are in your process of regaining hope and stepping into spring, trust the journey. Keep going through the peaks and the valleys and know that they are delivering you to a whole new place of flourishing.