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Community- A Place Called Home

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Today I am attempting to define the word community in a single post.

Hold the applause, please?

The North Park Nature Center is many things for many people. A preserve, a place that houses learning and educational development, a park within the city of Chicago, a forty-six-acre lot that holds about four different ecosystems.

That’s what you’ll hear from those that work or manage the Center. However, for the visitors, it’s quite apparent that this preserve holds a lot more than just deer.  Here’s what a few people I’ve spoken to have to say:

“This is the most beautiful spot I’ve ever been too!”

“Coming here has been a family tradition for us for many years!”

“This is my escape. This is where I find healing, love, and support.”

“The Nature Center is my home away from home. It’s my church.”

“You guys do a fantastic job with this place, I love it more and more everytime I come!”

Those are just a few of the thousands of compliments I get to hear, from visitors all the time. Now I have always loved this place and I have begun to challenge myself to ask why?

My list of reasons can go on, but a few are the people, the visitors, the warm and friendly atmosphere, the classes, the natural beauty that surrounds this place, etc. So as I began to ask different people why they enjoyed coming here, I was very surprised by their answers. Why?

They were all like mine.

Perhaps some were different and maybe some people were facing different things in their life, but they all came because this Nature Center makes them feel like they belong.

A sense of belonging is one of the most powerful things a person can feel. It creates a sense of meaning and contentment in their lives and lets them know that they matter.  That’s what this place has always been about and it interlinks with everything else we do here.

We create a sense of belonging to the children by educating them about the world around them. We teach them to be aware of all the beautiful things happening in the natural world around them and this fosters a sense of belonging in their world. When the staff offer to help the visitors with something they need, this makes people feel like their opinions and thoughts are respected. I can tell you, as a volunteer myself, that this impact is huge!

So this leads me to the topic of my post: community. What is a community? Is it a thing, a person, a place, a definition?

If you ask Google, it states that a community is a noun that means, “A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common,” and, “A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

That sounds powerful. And I believe that’s exactly what the North Park Nature Center is. It’s a group of people who have common goals, attitudes, and interests towards housing awareness of nature. Now let’s think about that word common.

Common goals can actually be brought about by different thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. The one goal is the education of nature, but it is brought about by many different ways. That’s what keeps the center unique and exciting. It’s also what keeps people coming back.

On the flip side, however, besides being unique, we are also a place that remains the same in many things. We have so many awesome volunteers and people who help bring about exciting programs, but we also try to keep some things that people enjoy.

For instance, our pre-k’s cover many of the same topics. We hold the same festivals every year, we also keep popular programs like Monarch Palooza around. Why? I’m sure the staff could tell you a much bigger reason, but I believe it’s the for the simple reason that, the people love it, so we keep doing it.

So as diverse and unique as this preserve is, it also holds a sense of security for me. I naturally like routine. Well, maybe not routine, but I like to know what’s going on so I can get the most out of my day.
When I’m here volunteering, I feel that sense of belonging. I feel like I’m participating in a much bigger cause than I probably even understand. I also have way too much fun tagging butterflies and talking about bees.

I enjoy that sense of belonging that you get when you walk up the steps to that wooden little house. The warm hug I get from my friends upon entering the office. The smiles of joy on the kid’s faces when their waving goodbye, after learning another awesome nature fact. I also enjoy the fact of knowing that despite all the crazy things that happen in our world, this little preserve will always be there for me. Sometimes no change is the best change of all.

So to conclude, that’s what I believe makes up this Nature Center. I think it’s what people want to see, it’s what keeps them coming back, and it’s what leads to lasting relationships.

The two words that I challenge you to ponder upon are community and connections.

But are the two really different after all?

God Bless!

 

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Satisfying Sundays (Part 2 of My Weekend Shift.)

Saturdays are not the only time where the crazy good fun happens. I also work all day on Sundays doing much of the same thing from the previous day.

It’s pretty funny to see the comparison of both days back to back. It’s the weekend, so I see a lot of families coming through. For some strange reason though, I seem to get a lot more questions on Saturdays than Sundays. However, we get phone calls through the entire day.

Some days are quiet with only a few visitors passing through. Other days, it looks like an elementary school hall crammed with children screaming and loud voices. Weekdays tend to be more mellow because of work and school. Especially with the weather. If it’s a nice sunny day, I guarantee more people will come. But if it’s raining cats and dogs and deer, people tend to stay away.

Sundays can be a little nuttier than Saturdays because there’s only one staff member working that day. I work on Sundays with Liza Fischel, naturalist, and educator. I always have such a great time working with her. She is a positive, bright, funny, and beautiful lady whom I’ve learned so much from.

I actually met Liza years ago, when I was eight. My family and I had been looking for a place to spend outside and stumbled across the Nature Center. Unfortunately, it four’ o clock and we met Liza, who was saying goodbye to another family.

She told us that they were closing, but after explaining to her that this was our first time here, she offered to take us on a tour while she checked the preserve before closing. Every evening before we close, we do what we call the walk through. Here, we walk around the preserve letting people on the trails know that we’re closing so we don’t lock them in.

So as we walked through the trail, my Mom explained to Liza that she had homeschooled her children. I remembered feeling kind of bored just walking, so Liza gave us a game to play.
She would ask us a question like, “Can you find a critter who is flying?”

So my older Sarah, myself, and my baby sister Jasmine, who was just four at the time,  would look around the preserve for something flying. At one point, we were asked to find something crawling, and Liza pointed out a Daddy long-leg spider.

Now I love nature, but I can admire spiders from a distance. A particularly far distance if you please. I remember watching her bend down to pick up the spider and hold it in her hand.

I thought, “She’s either crazy or really brave!”

The walk was wonderful and I made a new friend that day. A few days later, my Mom had us doing some drawing for our art lessons. I asked, “Can I give my picture to the lady with the spiders?”

“You mean, Liza?” Mom smiled.

Liza still has those pictures on her wall in the office. Two years later, I became a volunteer there and have done so many fun activities with her since. We’ve become like family rather than colleagues. I often call her Auntie at times.

Sundays start off with a free yoga class that goes on for an hour, and then we may set up the classroom if there is a program going on. If not then there maybe some paperwork to do. All with lots of laughs involved.

Often there is normal Nature Center madness lurking about ready to grab anyone or anything! Like the time someone apparently dropped a bunch of goldfish in our pond.

Someone had came up to the desk and asked, “Do you guys have new fish here?”

I said no, but then she showed me a picture of a whole school of gold floating at the top of the pond. I went to investigate and sure enough, Nemo had found his home.

The fish are still there and now we’ve spotted a lot more species of bird dlying around. Besides seeing the hawks and herons all the time, a King Fisher was also spotted.

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Our dear King Fisher having lunch on a branch. Poor Nemo!!

It’s this happy randomness that keeps things exciting at the Center and I truely believe it’s what makes this place special.

These weekends are probably the most exciting fun I’ve ever experinced and I know more good times are just waiting to come!

God Bless!!

 

Satisfying Saturdays

Every weekend, I come into the Nature Center to volunteer. This consists of answering phones, meeting and greeting visitors, and answering any questions that they may have.

At least that’s what I thought it was when I first started. That was seven years ago.

Now I can see that it’s so much more. More work? Perhaps. However, I can honestly say, I’ve never had so much fun and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

On Saturdays, the two staff members working are naturalist educator, Sean Shaffer, and custodian, Frank DeMartino.  They are quite the team. I’ve known both of them since my first day volunteering.

I have to say that working with Sean is an absolute pleasure. Sean is a dedicated, kind, intelligent and overall great guy! He is also an amazing writer, who has inspired me to write myself.

Sean has written many pre-k stories for the children during our classes and has a great imagination. He also has a lot of knowledge about the natural world and has taught me much of what I know now.

Frank is much more than just a custodian. He always is talking to people, offering a friendly smile and help when it’s needed. His positive spirit is often needed and appreciated so much by so many.

I met Frank when I was ten years old, so I can honestly say that I grew up with him. We are the jokers in the Center and together form a great team! Frank is my best friend rather than my colleague. More like my older brother than my friend.

We talk about techy stuff, cars, art, nature, life in general and all the mishaps that happen along the way. I find it rather amusing that each week, we fill each other in on the miscellaneous adventures that we go through. From his car breaking down and acting up to my Geometry test that I just can’t pass. Friendship is like free therapy!

These are the little reasons why coming to work is such a pleasure for me. When I see something interesting about bees and mentally say, “That’s a Sean question,” or when I see an unsolved mystery and say, “I can’t wait to show this to Frank!”

Their awesome work ethic and friendly spirit help me in ways I don’t even think they know. The ideas Sean and I throw at each other for upcoming programs, the crazy messes that I help Frank clean up that leave us saying, “How did THIS get in a Nature Center?”

Because really people, a bag of infants clothes belongs in a donation bin, not a Nature Center!

Yet that’s one more thing I’ve learned from having spent so many Saturdays here. There’s never a dull moment! Never ever! Something funny, bizarre, and totally out of this world, will always find it’s way here. It just takes a little time.

I spend my afternoons here because I find it extremely pleasing and fun to help people learn new things, even for five minutes. I keep coming back, because of the relationships that last a lifetime.

You can’t duplicate that. I mean, how can you let go of a place where you come and get a hug from a guy who’s like your brother and sit down laughing over coffee? How can you let that go? Where else do you find that?

For me, there is nowhere else. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Here, I’m needed. Here, I’m truly wanted. Here, my thoughts and opinions matter.

And during wacky Saturday afternoons here, I belong.

Thank you, Sean and Frank, for all those little things that will last a lifetime!

God Bless!

Empowered By Pen and Paper

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Throughout these last few months, my writing class has spiraled in ways I never imagined it could. However, in the class, the teacher got taught a lesson she’ll never forget.

And it all began on the first writing class meetup in March.

I had everything set and ready to go. I had decided to decorate the classroom with a few fun things. For instance, I put brightly colored table cloths over the writing tables, created a comfortable circle for families to sit in, had a warm fire going, and even had popcorn with maple syrup drizzled on top! Yum!

Yeah, this would be fine.

I couldn’t help but feel a few butterflies in my stomach when I saw three or four families enter with close to ten children altogether. Ten children that may or may not know anything about writing. Yet, I forced those thoughts away. The point of this class is to have fun, and that’s what I was here to help them do.

That’s what I kept in my mind as I sat down and greeting the children. However, the enthusiasm that I was carrying did not seem to rub off on this bunch of bright students.

“Oh dear,” I heard my insecurity say like a devil on my shoulder, “They are not enjoying this at all. I bet their parents made them come, and now they are stuck.”

That was in my head but, instead, I said something like, “Hi everyone, I’m so happy you all are here! We’re going to have a lot of fun today.”

The children just stared at me with a bored expression as if to say, “Wanna bet?”

I could feel myself begin to coward out. This was a horrible idea. What was I thinking? These children had no interest in what I was saying at all! Most children probably hate writing anyway…

And that thought did it.

Most children probably hate writing anyway!

Why? Because they can’t write about what they enjoy or what interests them. They have to read books that may bore them and it had become a dreaded task. One that they may never touch again in their adult life.

Now in no way do I mean to put schools down. Writing is something essential and not always an enjoyment.  However, I’m homeschooled and I also know that writing essays on Shakespeare are boring! Although, writing this blog isn’t. Creating teaching manuals is a hobby for me, and writing has become therapeutic in my life!

Because when I’m writing, I’m in control. No one can tell me what I can or can’t say and I have the ability to create my own world.
Perhaps these students have never looked at it in this aspect though. They only know what they’re taught, which is reasonable but not always fun.

 

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(Here the students and I are exploring the critters that are underneath a log.)

So here was my chance to change the perspectives a bit. I asked them, to be honest, and tell me if they really enjoy writing or not.

They all said, no. Honesty is a virtue!

When I asked them why I received many different answers. Some things that were said were, “It’s boring,” or, “I’m not good at it,” and my personal favorite, “You’ll never use it.”

I realized that for these children that was the cold hard truth. That writing held no value to them at all and the only reason to do it was to get the grade.  So I used the short time we had to explain to them just how fun writing can be when you’re in control. I told them that I wasn’t going to grade them on their work and that they could write whatever they wished.

We all went for a walk in the woods and I taught them all about the process of Maple Syrup. The kids used the tools and asked many questions. Then I explained to them how important these stories were.

They seemed confused and one boy said, “No, stories are just in books.”

“Not always,” I smiled, “Everybody has a story. Right now, I’m telling you the story of the Maple Tree.”

This is my own firm belief. Everything is a story. Where you were born? How were you raised? Why did you decide on the job you did? What do you value?

These are stories we all hear every day and that means that we are all storytellers, in our own unique way. I could see the children’s faces took on a new look. Some were frowning as if in deep contemplation and some were smiling like they found the answer to their questions.

When we were done, I explained to them that we were going to head back to the center to write. Immediately, they all whined. When I asked why, they said, “We have nothing to write!”

Tough crowd.

So I faked a look of shock, “Really? You just learned all about Maple Syrup. We found the trees, did a health check on the tree, tapped the tree, named the tree, and you’re telling me you have nothing to write about?”

Then they said, “No, we do.”

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(The students are recording the behavior of a mother goose with her baby goslings.)

And they really did. One boy wrote about how a tree fell in the forest from a wildfire and a group of people came to repair it. I was blown away! This was the same child who earlier had told me he hated writing. His descriptions were amazing and his chronological order was great!

Another child I bonded with was a girl named, Maya. Maya said that she hated writing and that she will do anything to not have to write, even skip school! This sounds terrible, but Maya is a sweet, beautiful girl. Her sense of humor is the best and she kept things interesting for me, during the class. Her disinterest in writing helped me to keep pushing myself a little further to help her enjoy it.

We were joking around a lot while we were outside and she wrote about how her phone ran out of battery while she was in the woods. The reason why she states is, “All Rosa’s fault!”

I have seen Maya a few times after that. She gave me a beautiful heart charm and I made it into a necklace. I believe I made a new friend.

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(Maya and I are discussing what things to write about as the students begin their stories.)

After the class was done, the children admitted to me that they enjoyed this class more than they thought they would. I encouraged them to come back and some of them did.

The next two months of April and May were awesome! The kids were enthusiastic to get outside and start writing. They were asking questions and observing things. In our April meeting, I discussed the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Then we went on a scavenger hunt.
In May, our final meeting, the children wrote their stories outside. They also documented what they saw the animals doing. Toward the end, when I explained to them that this was our last one, they all seemed sad.

They kept saying, “Can we do it in the summer? Please, we’re not doing anything!”

I was shocked. These children, who not even two months ago stated their deep loathing of writing, were now asking me to keep the classes going.

I told them that I would if they promised to continue their writing and give me ideas about what they’d like to see. And wow did they have good ideas.

Fantasy, building, and writing directions to how they built things were just a few. So it looks like this Tween Writing Class is going to stick around, and I couldn’t be happier. Just to know that the kids are enjoying themselves and that they trust me to read their work and help them, is huge for me!

I don’t have any secret as to how I got them to enjoy this class. Perhaps lending a sympathetic ear or showing them that you want them to succeed is a good start. Not pushing but just being there as well.

I know this was a blessing from God because I couldn’t have been able to do it without His help.

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(It turned out to be beautiful weather for our May meeting! Couldn’t be more proud of these young authors!)

Our new dates for the writing sessions are as follows:

June 18th- vocal stores 1:00-2:30 pm.

July 16th- fantasy 1:00-2:30 pm.

August 13th- building and construction 1:00-3:00 pm.

If you wish to register a child please call the Nature Center at 312-744-5472
God bless!

Not Goodbye But So Long!

We celebrated Julie Sacco’s retirement today! May 3rd was her last day and we had a lovely barbecue, with good friends and beautiful weather.
I wrote Julie a speech that I decided to read in private to the staff. It was bittersweet. I will miss Julie very much, but she intends to still stick around! She’s already signed herself up for a few volunteer days at the Center. There’s no getting rid of her and I’m glad!

Here is the speech I wrote! Happy Retirement, Julie Sacco!

Not Goodbye but So Long! A Tribute To Julie Sacco

Hi, Everyone!

My name is Rosa, I’ve volunteered here for the last seven years and I’m a writer. Today I needed to use my gift to give a dear friend something treasured.

This is a gift, a tribute, a recognition, and a sincere thank you to a person who has inspired my life and so many others.

Julie Sacco is retiring. Goodness knows she deserves this, and so much more. This is a woman of strength and dedication. Someone who gives selflessly every day, in any way she can.

For some of you who may not know Julie and may be unfamiliar with her work, I can only tell you one thing. Look at this Center! Her work is evident every time I walk the trails and see the beauty here. The beauty that her and the incredible staff here, work so tirelessly to maintain and promote.

I remember I had done an interview with Julie a few years ago. I was inspired to write a book about this place and I still plan to do that, when I find time between school and other lovely chaos. When we were talking about the reasons why she wanted this job she said, “I don’t have a degree in this like Liza, Sean, and Bob. I’m not a naturalist and don’t have any formal education that helped me get this job. It’s just something I love and wanted to do.”

Julie taught me the key behind a good job. Do what you love! Everyone here and everyone reading this on my blog, do what you love! Don’t let your dreams die!
Julie may not have had any degree for this job, but she works with everything she has. She puts love into whatever she does and I truly believe that is why she reaps the fruit she does.

When I hear the name, Julie Sacco, I think of a giver, a teacher, someone who is humble, kind, dedicated, and never backs down. She is what makes this Center great and they’ll never be another director like her. At least not for me!

However, this is not a day for goodbyes or tears. It is a celebration! I celebrate you Julie, and Bob, Liza, Sean, and Frank. Your work is what makes this preserve beautiful! You have enriched the lives of so many, and you’ve helped a young girl find herself in a world where selfishness rules.

Julie, you have taught me responsibility, good work ethic, and humbleness. You’ve showed me what teamwork really means and what a good community should do. For that I thank you.
Thank you for all the times you’ve made me smile. For believing in me, for coming in to work on your days off or when you weren’t feeling well. For just being you, because that is the best person you can be!

The Nature Center may be a preserve or just another building in North Park. But to me, it’s never been any of those things. It’s always been all of you!
Thank you for making the Nature Center what it is and thank you for keeping everything the way it should be. Beautiful!

I hope on this new journey of retirement that you have all the love and joy you so deserve! That’s why we’re all here today. To wish you the best, to celebrate everything you’ve done, and to say, “We Love You!”
And I couldn’t agree more with the truth from Laura Ingalls Wilder, who said, “I’m beginning to learn that, it is the sweet, simple things of life, which are the real ones after all.”

God Bless you and the staff always!

Love,
Rosa Younan

 

 

What’s Springing Up?

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The Nature Center pond in the evening.

I can finally say with confidence that spring is here! (Yes, that includes rain.) So what exactly will you be finding in our preserve throughout these upcoming months of April to June?

Here’s a short list:

A large variety of colorful flowers and plants such as violets, daffodils, cone flowers, milkweed, and more.

Tadpoles will be popping up around the pond. It’s pretty exciting to watch them change from little black dots with tails, to full grown green frogs!

Bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinating friends can be seen dancing from flower to flower. Many butterfly species fly through the preserve like cabbage, admiral, swallowtail, and monarchs.
Our Nature Center has a special job to do with these monarchs butterflies and you can find out more about that in my future post in June-July.  So please stay tuned!

Fawns (baby deer) can be spotted trotting about the preserve as well. Does (female deer) can give birth to about two fawns a year. The spots on the fawns side and back are keys that tell us just how young they are.
I will be posting a whole lot more information about the deer through the seasons in the next few months.

Geese and ducks are giving birth now too! All around the wetland area you can see two proud parents walking along with a trail of adorable, small, fluffy, mischief makers behind them. They will be staying with their parents for the next few months while learning survival skills like feeding, swimming, and flying. I would say they grow faster than children! I for one am happy that kids don’t grow up in a span of four or five months.

Finally, a few critters that will be popping up when the sun goes down include, raccoons, possums, skunks, bats, owls, coyotes. These guys are nocturnal, meaning night dwelling creatures. Although you may spot some of them in the day, their active hours are after the sun goes down. This is when they do most of their hunting and prowling. Our preserve is open from 10 am- 4 pm. so it may be difficult to spot them.
However, on the last Friday of the summer months, we have Late Great Nocturnal Night. The preserve stays open from 4 pm- 8 pm. Visitors can drop in later and discover all the exciting activity that goes with these late night critters.

So there you have it! These are the flora and fauna you are most likely to see in our beautiful spring months. Take a look around your nearest preserve and see if you can discover any of these plants and animals on the list. Please let me know what you find, and come visit our Nature Center. Surprises are always waiting! To find out more information on our free programs, please call the Nature Center at 312-744-5472.

I’d also like to wish everyone a Blessed Resurrection Sunday! May your holiday be bright, safe, and full of happiness! God Bless!

Rosa

Maple Syrup Tapping (The Old and New Tools) Part 2

Hello, everyone! I apologize for the long wait but my crazy life decided to lock me in a closet called, “Homework,” and never let me out, until I promised to be good and finish my work. Just kidding.

So I’m back now for part two of our Maple Tapping facts. I titled this one, “The Old and New Tools) because that’s what our discussion will be today. I previously mentioned all about our Maple Trees, the ribbons we use and what the colors mean, the health check we do and more. If you have not read the first part, I encourage you to do so at, https://volunteersvoice.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/maple-syrup-tapping-family-time-sweetly-spent-part-1/

You don’t have to read part 1 to follow up with this, but if you’re into awesome facts and pounds of knowledge, then eat up the article!

So I’ll start this educational topic with a question. I can hear your groans! Was Maple Syrup collecting always done? If so, how did the process come to be? Well, I’m no historian but the farthest back we can track on Maple Syrup tapping and collecting can be in the 19th century. One of the earliest race to begin this sweet tradition was the Native Americans.

Tribes like the Ojibwa and Chippewa are often mentioned as tribes that found Maple Syrup and collected it. There is no exact fact as to where maple syrup tapping or sugar making began, but many tales exist. For instance, it is said that the Algonquin tribe recognized maple syrup as a strong source of energy and nutrition and often gave drinks to their warriors, believing that it would strengthen them before battle. Another creative tale is that Aboriginal people would celebrate the Sugar Moon, which was the first full moon of spring. One of their rituals was to do a Maple Dance and pray for a year of sweetness.

Stories like these truly fascinate me, even if we’re not sure which one’s are true or false. I guess that’s the fun part. If you’re interested in the folk tales of the Native Americans and sugar making, I strongly encourage you to research more. I, unfortunately, didn’t have the time to do much research but I have heard many interesting stories.

So we mentioned before that the Maple Tree holds the strongest and sweetest sugar content. However, it doesn’t taste sweet when we collect it from the trees. The consistency is like water and has no color to it. The sap tastes cold and bland but rather refreshing.
I find it amusing when we give the public a chance to taste the sap right from the tree, during our classes. The children go in there with eager fingers and take a lick, just to end up frowning. I sometimes feel like I can read their mind. “What?” They think, “This is nothing like the stuff on pancakes. What a rip-off!”

So, how does it go from bland, boring, water-like sap to delicious, rich, brown, thick, sweet, syrup? You have precisely three guesses, go!

You probably didn’t guess at all but just kept reading, right? I thought I’d catch you! Well, if a stove was any one of your guesses, you got it! Your prize is some well-earned pancakes! Sweetness has to start somewhere!

We collect the sap from our sugar bush in the preserve and bring it to the stove. And just for the record if any of you are taking that phrase literally, please don’t. We do not have a bush full of syrup or we would probably be a big attraction for Chicagoans! Maple Syrup comes from trees right? So the term sugar bush means, a whole area where Maple trees are grown.
Our brick stove was hand built by awesome volunteers. We use it for boiling the syrup. Yes, that right. Boiling. So you’re learning history, natural education, and culinary arts, lucky you!

We boil the syrup for 6-8 hours. It needs to be stirred constantly so the sugar content can rise. We have about two to three volunteers or staff, stirring the syrup all day during our Maple Syrup Festival. It is a long process and sometimes tiring, but well worth the work in the end.

It’s also pretty funny when we’re stirring because there’s so much smoke erupting from the stove. The wind may blow it in your face and sudden tears may spill. A few people were watching me stir at the Festival and started laughing saying, “Oh look, she’s crying!”

I jokingly said, “Yeah, I’m so happy you guys are here…it just brings tears to my eyes.” I’ll bet that’s one they won’t forget!

So that pretty much concludes this Maple Tapping part. Once again, if you have any questions or would like to share any information you know, please do so in the comment box. I will respond! Part 3 will be the finale. There I’ll talk about our Festival, the activities, and the real sweetness that comes from this work.
I also can’t help but feel blessed because I am keeping a tradition that is ancient, alive for others to see. Not many young teens my age get to do this, so I feel especially grateful!

Allow me to give a quick shout out to my friends, Liza, Sean, Bob, Julie, and Frank! Thanks guys for all you’ve taught me and for giving me skills I never thought I had!

God Bless you all!

Rosa