Community members are getting their first taste of spring this month – and that taste is maple syrup.
Yes, it’s that time of year again, when people all over the eastern woodlands are tapping into maple trees for the liquid gold we’ve all come to love.
Chiefswood Park was host to the first maple syrup event of the season on the weekend, where community members enjoyed a maple syrup pancake breakfast, crafts for the kids, and tree-tapping tour throughout the park.
The sap is flowing on dozens of trees that were tapped at the park, giving hope that spring will soon be here.
Community members also learned how to identify maple trees, which are harder to identify in the late winter when they’re still bare.
Kerdo Deer helped with the identification of maple trees.
“One of the things you want to look at is the arrangement of the branches so oppositely arranged branches, like a capital T. Maples and ashes are going to be the only trees with branches oppositely arranged.”
The ash tree, however, has buds that look like chocolate chips.
He said there are a lot of different stories regarding when Haudenosaunee people first discovered maple sugar and the importance of it as a medicine and food source.
It’s especially treasured as a food source in the late winter as there was traditionally no produce or fresh fruits or vegetables available to eat during this time of year.
It’s also referred to as a medicine in the Thanksgiving Address.
For those unfamiliar with boiling sap, it could take days to boil it long enough to evaporate the water content leaving only the delicious sap behind.
When it comes to choosing where to tap a maple tree with a spigot in order to get the most sugar flowing, Deer recommends choosing the south side of the tree. That’s where it would get the most sun during the day.
You can also look up to find where the biggest branch is – that’s where the most sap will be flowing, he said.