Topsfield, Massachusetts – Our friends A and J are really good at involving their kids in outdoor activities, like farm visits and nature walks. Last summer, they talked us into going blueberry picking, which I never would have dared, but it turned out to be a winner. (Of course it was a winner. It involves two of the twins’ favorite activities: eating berries and putting little tiny things into various-sized containers. Now I see that it was a no-brainer.)
So, when A and J invited us to go maple sugaring at the Mass Audubon Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, we decided it was worth a try. After all, we had had some success with nature walks in Costa Rica. And in this case, we would have a perfect incentive to keep the twins going: maple syrup.
Also, I guessed that it wouldn’t hurt that the twins adore A and J’s slightly older daughter, E, who is a nature walk pro.
We spent almost an hour following a snowy trail through the maple trees. Volunteers showed us how to recognize a maple tree and when it’s ready to tap (when it’s 40 years old). We learned how to tap the tree and we got to taste the sap (mostly water but it has a slight sweetness to it).
And then we made our way into the sugar house, where we saw – and smelled – the sap being boiled down. We learned that it takes 40 gallons of sap to yield one gallon of maple syrup (which explains why the stuff is so pricey).
And there at the sugar house, the hearty hikers were rewarded with a free sample of fresh-made maple syrup. We raised our little paper cups and drank a toast to the maple tree – “Thank you, maple tree!” – before slugging the syrup back like a sweet, heavenly shot.
Except Twin V. He insisted on carrying his little cup around with him for the next 30 minutes, taking little sips, relishing every taste, and greatly increasing the chances of spillage (and inevitable resulting meltdown). Miraculously, that did not happen. The maple gods were smiling on us.
- Boston Symphony Orchestra Family Concert