Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tapping the Trees

Have I ever mentioned how much I love maple syrup? I love maple syrup. Not the colored, flavored corn syrup that comes in a funny plastic bottle at Jewel, but the real stuff that is made from tree sap and tastes like the outdoors. So when I learned that there was a Maple Syrup Festival at North Park Nature Village last weekend, I had to pack up the kids and The Dad and go.

It was amazingly crowded when we got there at 10:15, with extremely limited parking (we found a spot in the lot by the recycling center) and folks backed up into the fire lane. They had vendors in the fire lane selling everything from coffee to garlic to Peruvian tchotchkes (The Dad and I split a coffee from Stivers Coffee and successfully diverted the kids from their requests for various noisemakers from the Peruvian wares), but the real action of the festival was inside the nature village center and behind it along its trail.

Did you know that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup? That sap is 97% water and 3% sugar? That they boil the sap for 8 hours to concentrate the sugar enough to make it palatable? That the amber color comes from the sugar carmelizing during the boiling? I learned all this from the volunteer at the head of the trail. The Boy, The Girl and The Tot were less interested -- they all wanted to get pancakes (with real maple syrup!) from the tent set up in the parking lot. A local church's men's club was running the food tent as a fundraiser; 2 pancakes and 3 sausage links went for $3.50/plate. We ate 3 between the five of us (The Girl had decided that she didn't want any).

The Boy and The Girl also made a stick and string craft of some sort, and were assisted by our former neighbor, who is now 14, tall and willowy. We never would have recognized him if he didn't recognize us. How did these kids get to be so big already? We went to the festival partially with our current neighbors, whose daughter is right between The Boy and The Girl in age. The Girl and our neighbor had such fun dancing to the tunes of the folk band playing in the nature center itself. The Boy ran into one of his classmates during the concert also, and shyly went up to say hello to her. It was a fun outing.
From Blogger Photos

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