When I was a little girl, a ritual holiday gift in my family was maple sugar candy. Mmmmm, nothing quite as yummy as that and it came in a variety of shapes – still does: maple leaves were common but trees and Santas too at Christmas time and bunnies in the spring.
It was a favorite sweet then, and now that I'm an old woman, it is a flavor treat I actually crave from time to time – can't get it out of my head until I track down a small box of those candies.
Due to weight control issues, I eat pancakes or waffles only once or twice a year but I keep “pure maple syrup” in the house to use by the tablespoon or two in some salad dressings and in marinades sometimes for shrimp, salmon and other dishes.
When I lived in Maine, the price of maple syrup was not nearly as heart-attack inducing as it is here in Oregon, a continent away from the most northern northeast states where maple sugar/syrup is widely produced. But the syrup doesn't go bad in the refrigerator and with the infrequent, small amounts I use it, the cost is tolerable.
All of which is prelude to this:
The Republican primary is not the only reason New Hampshire has been in the news during these first days of January 2012. This may not have made the front page of The New York Times or turned up on network and cable news, but a warning about the decline and possible disappearance of maple syrup has been posted online at Grist, Mother Jones, The Atlantic and the website of Boston public television station, WGBH, among other locations along with a five-minute YouTube video.
The subject of the video is 65-year-old Martha Carlson, a former teacher and a maple farmer in New Hampshire for 30 years, she recently added researcher to her skills. She says there may not be any maple syrup by 90 years from now:
It's not just Ms. Carlson. Other scientists back up her findings of a shortened season and reduced sugar production by the trees, attributing it to climate change:
“[Professor of forestry and botany at the University of New Hampshire, Barrett Rock], says Martha Carlson’s work bolsters the evidence that the sugar maple is responding at least in part to climate change - but what’s surprising is how quickly it’s happening.
“'At 68, I didn’t think I would live long enough to see the impact of a changing climate. But I’m beginning to think living another 10-15 years, I will see some significant changes, and as Martha’s work has suggested, we’re already seeing significant changes,' Rock said.”
Please keep the potential demise of maple syrup in mind as you listen to the Republicans deny climate change during the coming year's campaign.
All of which is prelude to this:
Senator Bernie Sanders represents one of the biggest maple sugar producing states, Vermont. Yesterday, he sent out an email to his subscriber friends which began thusly [emphasis is mine]:
”I know that many of you are deeply concerned about the economy, health care, education, global warming and the environment, Social Security and Medicare, civil liberties, war and peace and the national debt. But here's an issue that's even more important because it encompasses all of these issues - and much more.”
The senator is referring to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling and his constitutional amendment introduced a month ago in Congress to overturn that decision. Bernie's email continues:
”Short-term, we must do everything we can to support those progressive candidates in 2012 who are fighting for the middle class and the values we believe in. Long-term, we must overturn Citizens United and fight for real campaign finance reform which limits the power of big money.
“Your pledge of support today will show the Big Money interests that while they may have unlimited sums of money, we have something more important - the power of the people.”
Senator Sanders is asking that we join him, Democracy Now, Daily Kos and Democracy for America in this support. With the help of as many people as possible maybe we can overturn Citizen United AND elect enough of the right people to make changes that will save maple syrup.
Okay, I'm being silly about that last thing, but please do go sign Bernie's pledge. And let us note too that it is two elders - a 65-year-old maple farmer/researcher and a 70-year-old senator who are taking the lead on these crucial issues.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: The Tree Hugger