Week 2- Braiding Sweetgrass and the Democracy of Species


Week Two Reflection: Braiding Sweetgrass” and the Democracy of Species

Welcome back to our community book read of “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This week we dive into the second section, a collection of stories that further explore the themes of reciprocity, responsibility, and respect for nature.

Beginning with the “Maple Sugar Moon” section, where Kimmerer shares an annual tradition of making maple syrup. The central question posed in this section is: What does the act of making maple syrup teach us about the relationship between humans and nature?

The process of making maple syrup is presented not as a simple extraction, but a reciprocal relationship. We are reminded that even as we take from nature, we should give back, respecting the tree’s gift by using it wisely and sparingly. This reinforces the theme of reciprocity that is recurrent in the book. In my personal life, this lesson resonates deeply. I’ve started to look at my consumption patterns and consider how I can give back. Whether it’s composting kitchen scraps or buying sustainable products, we all have a part to play in this cycle of giving and taking.

Interconnected Stories

As we delve deeper into the subsequent sections, each story brings its unique insights. From learning about the Three Sisters in plant agriculture to understanding the symbiotic relationship between lichens and trees, we’re continually reminded of the interconnectedness in nature. For those seeking to delve deeper into these themes, I recommend the documentary “Fantastic Fungi” that beautifully illustrates the interconnectedness in nature.

In next week’s reading, we’ll explore more of Kimmerer’s wisdom, delving into the lessons we can learn from the natural world around us. Until then, keep reflecting, keep sharing, and most importantly, keep connecting with the world around you.

Questions for Reflection this Week!

Maple Sugar Moon

  • Do any specific plants bring you comfort and connection?

Witch Hazel

  • Do you have any acquaintances similar to Hazel?

A Mother’s Work

  • Does anything in your life feel like an almost insurmountable task, similar to the scraping of the pond?

The Consolation of Water Lilies

  • Do you feel a connection to the Earth as reciprocal as the relationships outlined in this chapter?

Allegiance to Gratitude

  • What did you think of the Pledge of Interdependence?

Epiphany in the Beans

  • Do you think the Earth loves you back?

The Three Sisters

  • Have you grown anything from seed?

Wisgaak Kenomagwen: A Black Ash Basket

  • What was the last object you felt a responsibility to use well?

Mishkos Kenomagwen: The Teaching of Grass

  • How often do we consider the language, or perceptions, of those we are trying to communicate with?

Maple Nations: A Citizenship Guide

  • What are your thoughts regarding the “democracy of species” concept?