Today we took a walk in the woods in search of some history and some delicious local maple syrup. Luckily, we found both. The A.W. Campbell Conservation Area outside of Alvinston, Ontario hosts an annual maple syrup festival. They have displays of historical ways of processing sugar maple sap, and also a modern operation which uses a series of plastic tubes to run the sap to collection tanks.
My favourite part was a story about how early natives discovered maple syrup. The story told to us by the tour guide was that youths were practicing with their tomahawks and one got lodged in a tree. The youths left it behind, stuck deep into the tree, scarring it and releasing the life blood of the tree, the sap. The next day, a maiden was walking to collect a bucket of water and stopped to rest beneath the tree. She fell asleep, and when she woke, her bucket was overflowing with clear water! She happily returned to her village and used the water to cook bear meat. The sap boiled, cooked the bear meat and became maple syrup.
We had a demonstration of the native method… hot rocks placed into the sap in a hollowed out log. It looked… ashy.
The tour was wonderful, and very informative, but then there were pancakes. Cooked by firemen. And man, they were the best pancakes on styrofoam plates I have ever had. Did I mention the local fresh maple syrup? I wanted to lick the plate. Even the breakfast sausage was local.
This is my new friend Jake Halls. He works for the Alvinston fire department and was selling an assortment of completely legal, sweet, addictive, liquid gold. There was maple butter, and syrup – oh the syrup – in everything from tiny bottles to two liter jugs. Who wouldn’t want that?
I made it out of there without buying the entire counter. Barely.
Watch for some sweet maple treats while we celebrate the season of liquid gold.