It has felt a little spring-like this week, no? Have we served our six week sentence yet, Phil? Time off for good behavior perhaps?
One sure sign of spring is the tapping of maple trees for their sap. The sap is then boiled, filtered, and the result is maple syrup. If you have only had the Aunt Jemima version, you are really missing out.
I looked high and low for a syrup craft for the kids and found nothing. Maple Taffy? That involves pouring boiling hot syrup on snow. Our snow is all gross now, and having to yell at my kids to “STAND BACK!!” while I handle hot liquid doesn’t seem like such a good activity.
I briefly considered trying to rig some sort of thing out of a toilet paper roll and a straw, but being that A.P. has a freakishly good understanding of fluid hydraulics would surely call me out on any design flaws.
So on Monday we headed to the ‘big’ library downtown. The kids were still sick, but so was my husband so we needed to get out for a few hours. I wanted to get some ‘sugaring’ books. I figured it wouldn’t be busy, therefore, no one would give me dirty looks for my kids and their hacking coughs and snotty noses. I also was very un-selective with my wardrobe which, frankly is pretty much how I roll, but still. Of course, we arrived just as story time was beginning and happened to be right were it was occurring so of course I couldn’t get the kids away. My kids were coughing and sniffling, and I was the only mom wearing a Bells Beer T shirt. This one, in fact. Nice.
We came away with the following books to read about 100 times this week:
Sugar Snow, Laura Ingalls Wilder. This is one of the “My First Little House Books”. My kids absolutely love this one.
From Maple Trees to Maple Syrup, Kristin Thoennes Keller. This is a good explanation at a kid level of what is happening with syrup production.
Sugarbush Spring, Marsha Wilson Chall. This is a story book that gives an account of a family who has a sugarbush.
Maple Sugar Festivals: Tapping for Sap, by Lisa Gabbert. Also a good explanation of what is happening; and makes our festival look puny.
Buster’s Sugartime, Marc Brown. Ahh, yes. The book that spawned the infamous “Postcards from Buster” episode that got lots of folks upset. My kids love the story, and love Arthur and Buster, and didn’t notice anything about Buster’s friend’s parents. It’s a good book, but I did want to mention that if it is an issue for you.
Blandford Nature Center has a Sugarbush festival every year. You can actually see the taps on the trees with the buckets catching the sap, and there is a demonstration of the old fashioned way of boiling the sap in a huge cast iron pot, but also a sugar shack which is a more modern version of production. On the weekends, there are interpreters to demonstrate how it’s done and this weekend is the Pancake Breakfast. Of course, you can also buy some syrup. Check out the Big Binder calendar for more details. For more seasonal ideas – I promise, you will find some way craftier stuff there – head over to Scribbit’s Winter Bazaar.