Lessons from the Sugarbush
“Does it hurt the tree?” my daughter asked with a worried tone as her brother drilled a hole into the old sugar maple.
“Not a bit,” I explained. “And it will heal right back up when we’re done, just like you heal up when you get a cut.”
Satisfied, she picked her hammer up off the snowy ground and tapped the spile, a little spout made of metal, into the sugar maple tree. Grandpa stood nearby ready to help.
“Look! It’s running out really fast!” my daughter shouted while her brothers craned to look over her shoulder and see the sap for themselves.
Years ago, my dad shared the same ritual with me and my siblings. As winter slowly turned to spring, we tapped the trees, collected the clear, sweet sap and boiled it down into syrup. For a special treat, we collected clean snow and poured boiling sap onto the snow to make a chewy candy. Decades before I was born, my father’s father did the same with his children. Hundreds of years before that our colonial ancestors taught their children and long before that our Native American ancestors invented the process. It’s a sweet North American tradition.
Being a homeschool mom, I naturally saw an opportunity for fun learning. Best of all, Grandpa was sharing the experience with the kids, which always makes any adventure, learning or otherwise, way more fun. Together, they talked about Grandpa’s childhood maple tapping days. Back in his day, they made their own spiles, which were whittled from sumac.
To read more of a Lessons From the Sugarbush subscribe to the digital edition of Home Education Magazine. (Please note May-June/12 is available in digital edition only. Print will be back with the September-October/12 issue.)