Finding Signs of Hope in Surprise Sugar Maples

This beautiful piece by Susan Krawitz and published on Longreads  ends perfectly. “I listen to the news, but I also listen to nature.” I am, however, focused on the word “vector” that Krawitz chooses when she shares her daughter’s concern about not only getting sick but spreading sickness. An interesting word “vector.”

Of course, before right now, I’d think mathematics. I can see those graphs on the high school chalkboard, my eyes glazing over in the post-lunch ennui of a subject matter I struggle to conquer, those arrow-straight lines zinging their trajectories from a given point infinitely across a grid.

But this definition, “In epidemiology, a disease vector is any agent which carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism; most agents regarded as vectors are organisms, such as intermediate parasites or microbes, but it could be an inanimate medium of infection such as dust particles,” provided by Wikipedia, is the one. And yet, that mathematical point of offshoot into an infinite I can barely wrap my brain around—even decades beyond that high school classroom, the daughter’s concern quantified, pierces my heart.

I must return to her theme, “Sugar maple, unexpected, there when she never knew,” and hope for us all.

——Thank you, Longreads, for sharing.


Susan Krawitz | Longreads | March 2020 | 4 minutes (915 words)

It wasn’t the threat of a maple syrup shortage that got me into the woods with a power drill, hammer, makeshift buckets, and spiles, but my daughter’s request to tap some trees. The sun was out but the sky was cloudy, and the blue behind them looked bruised. And though the woods were quiet, the road I live on was far less so. There were dog walkers, joggers, and some people on bikes; a classic midsummer scene, but a very unusual one for an end-of-winter Monday. Local residents are very resident now, and so are the usually weekender ones. Alone together, we are hunkered down on this rural Catskill hillside, and in that suburb, in those cities, all across the world. We are buckling in for who knows how long, and finding ourselves with too much to think…

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