Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Look Up

When I was a girl, my family had a little business venture making maple syrup. Making maple syrup is a labor intensive job. It takes 40 gallons of sap from the maple tree to boil down to one gallon of syrup. There are different methods used to collect sap but when I was growing up, we tramped through the woods to each tree and collected the sap from the pail hanging from a spigot that was drilled into the tree. We poured the sap into a five gallon pail, and then transferred it to a really large barrel in the back of the pickup. From there it was taken to be cooked down into syrup. When you have a syrup making business, it’s helpful to have a lot of kids to help with sap collection.

I didn’t mind collecting sap. Maple sap runs in the spring when the days are above freezing and the nights are below freezing. It was usually a nice spring day when we went out to collect sap.

The thing I HATED about collecting sap was that sometimes, I would see a snake slithering around in the woods. I have a snake phobia. I can’t even type the word “snake” without getting the heebie-jeebies and feeling a shiver down my spine. I think I got it from my mom. We scream like little girls when we see a snake. So does one of my brothers.

One day when we were collecting sap, I saw a snake. I screamed, dropped the pail of sap and took off running. My dad came over to see what was wrong. He was probably mad that I dropped the sap but I don’t remember; my dad’s anger didn’t scare me, snakes did. He asked me what was wrong and I told him I’d seen a snake. And then, my dad gave me some advice that has stuck with me my whole life, although I’m sure he never knew. He said “Mary, if you don’t want to see snakes, don’t look down at the ground, just look up”

Look up. It was simple, when I stopped looking at the ground for snakes, I didn’t see any snakes

I found that “looking up” works for lots of things: dancing, staying optimistic, focusing on goals, keeping my heart where it should be, greeting the sun every morning. The Bible says when certain signs appear we should "look up" because our redemption is drawing near. When people want to encourage each other, they say “keep looking up” Looking up seems like the thing to do. It’s funny that out of all the advice my dad gave me (and he always seemed to have an opinion on what I should do) this stuck with me most and has seeped through so many areas of my life.

Thanks Dad for your advice about snakes, it was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.


Far Side of Fifty said...

Great advice from a great guy!

I am VERY afraid of snakes..but I have a real hard time not looking down...when it snows my snake worries are put to rest..except in the Middle School in PR.
I admire you for being able to look up! Great story, I really enjoyed it! :)

Missy said...

This is a great story Mary!!! I love it! I hate snakes too so I think I will be using your and dad's advice!! Thanks!!