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Getting Sticky in Silver Spring

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In the final days of winter, people wander into the forest to observe how maple syrup is made.

By Amina King and Fiona Conway

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Families with small children came to the Brookside Garden Nature Center on a cold Sunday morning to solve the mystery of how the delicious, sticky syrup they love to eat is created.

“It’s a beautiful winter day; a great day to come out and make some maple syrup!” says Sarah List, who is running the tour and clearly very passionate about maple trees and maple syrup.

The event begins with a small presentation and demonstration that the young children are encouraged to participate in, detailing which trees produce maple syrup and where to find them.

The educational introduction ranged from effects of climate change on trees and wildlife, to the history of maple syrup and its use by Native Americans, to Photosynthesis. Through each step of the process, List somehow finds a way to keep the children intrigued.

Tour participants then travel outside to find a beautiful expanse of forest, sunlight weaving through the long outstretched branches of tall trees, into a clearing in which to observe the tree tapping process.

After applying the recently gained knowledge of the differences between types of trees, and receiving more information on tree sap and how it is collected, everyone makes their way to a large steaming tin.

Upon seeing the sap in the pan, the kids begin to squirm and ask their parents when they’ll get to taste the syrup, surely the main reason they came to the tour in the first place.

The group is instructed to sit by the fire and observe maple syrup with different levels of saturation. List describes how the saturation is shown by the different colors of maple syrup, and how each level’s value has changed through time.

Finally, as List leads the group to a table where they taste the rich  maple syrup they watched being made, she says her goodbye. “Alright. I know the little ones have been asking, so I’m going to let you all enjoy your syrup!”

This event takes place every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday in February throughout the day.

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