Maple Sugaring

March is always such a tough month in New England. Due to those elementary school lessons about the month coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, I am trained to believe spring weather will arrive (and stay) at any moment. But there have been too many years when snow came in April and spring didn’t safely arrive until May. March, therefore, is rough. It’s a long month of weather uncertainty and clunky winter booths. 
Then, recently, a friend shared her inspiration for the dealing with this lion-like month: maple sugaring. There’s something about going maple sugaring that indicates to her that spring is coming soon, and it fills her with a great excitement that winter is ending. So, this weekend, we joined this friend and several others for our first maple sugaring adventure
Our adventure took place at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield, MA
which is run by the Mass Audubon Society.
The director of the Sanctuary welcomed us, and we set off on our hour-long tour through the woods to learn about maple sugaring. We were a group of more than 20 adults and kids, babies to elementary school age, who all were connected through my kids’ preschool. 

Our tour guide, Marie, was patient with our little ones, 
many of whom were not always quiet–but always enthusiastic!
The kids were captivated by the fact that the maple syrup
they love on their pancakes comes from a tree. 
(OK, perhaps captivated is too strong a word–interested?)
The adventure included an interactive educational component during which Audubon volunteers explained the process of tapping the sugar maple trees and capturing the sugar.

The Sanctuary is lovely and offers many options for hiking and exploring. 
We ended our tour at the aptly named sugar house where we saw the process that is used to turn the sugar into syrup. Delicious, rich, we-had-to-buy-some syrup. I can’t understand why someone would buy Aunt Jemima after tasting the real stuff. 
R and G enjoyed the trip with their friends and their enthusiasm 
encouraged us to add maple sugaring on the list for next March. 
And, I’m holding onto what those sugar maples trees are telling us: spring is coming!
Learn more about the Mass Audubon Society and its programs here. Want to go sugaring? Tours are scheduled the weekends of March 9 and 16; learn more