Tapping Maple trees is a great way to share one of natures secrets with children. Yes, that sweet, golden syrup that goes great on pancakes, comes from Maple trees. It takes about 10 gallons of sap to produce one quart of syrup.
The first year we tapped a tree, Stephen and Dave spent an entire mild spring weekend outside boiling down the sap. They burned brush and watched the sap, they played ball and cooked down sap, they raked the yard and supervised the sap. A weekend of work and play and a mutual goal. Dave and Stephen walked into the kitchen and presented their quart of golden maple syrup with a sense of accomplishment. All week we planned for a Saturday morning breakfast of pancakes with our very own maple syrup.
This year my nieces, Eliana and Liza joined me in the back-woods to check the buckets of sap. The buckets were 1/3 full and the sap was frozen. They ate the frozen sap like it was Italian Ice, asking if they could go into the house for spoons. I was happy to make the connection between nature and food for Eliana, Liza, Aurora and Stephen. My hope is that this experience will inspire them to make more connections as Spring approaches: as gardens fill with produce, as trees grow heavy with fruit, as the air fills with the smell of fragrant herbs and chickens ramp up egg production.