Maple Syrup Time
I arrived to school the other day to an interesting scene. The front doors were flung open wide, and at first I thought it was to coax the warm breeze of the beautiful day into our hallways and classrooms. As I set foot inside however, I quickly realized the open doors were intended not to invite air in, but rather to invite air out of the building. A thick, smoky caramel smell emanated through the downstairs, and I soon discovered that I had missed a whole swarm of activity while I had been out. An overheated pot of maple sap in the kitchen had given Randolph an odor seemingly concocted by Willy Wonka and a team of Oompa Loompas. The sweetness hung so thick in the halls it made me feel like Wonka’s Lickable Wallpaper had come true, but in Maple flavor rather than Schnozberry!
Maple Sugaring has been our focus this week at school. The kids have been out all week tapping trees and collecting the sap that is flowing freely in the suddenly warm weather. The evaporator has been fired, and circles of students gather to gaze at the bubbling liquid, to watch the logs being split and fed to the flames, and to learn about the magical process that allows us to transform a gift from nature into a delicious treat. I came across one team of Downstairs kids eagerly attacking a mound of snow, plopping shovelfuls into a cart and transporting their cargo down to a massive barrel where we store our sap. They were creating their own refrigeration unit for their precious liquid, dumping and packing the snow in a high encasement around the drum of sweet goodness.
The whole time, Grandmother Maple serves as a quiet inspiration to us. We sit on her logs, lean against her lengths of fallen timber near the evaporator, and race around to reacquaint ourselves with her smaller, younger relatives around the property that have been so very generous with their sap.
In the meantime, if you closed your eyes at any given moment at school this week, you could almost hear Pete Seeger’s voice in the breeze singing:
"We boil and boil and boil and boil it all day long.
When what is left is syrupy, don't leave it on the flame too long.
But seize the minute, build a new world, sing an old song.
Keep up the fire! Maple syrup time!"
Be well friends,