Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Seeing How Sap Becomes Syrup

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Seeing How Sap Becomes Syrup

Article excerpt

TENAFLY -- Children and adults huddled around the base of the tree trunk as the woman opened the lid to a metal bucket hanging from a small metal tube. Each person took turns touching a drop of the maple tree's sap onto their fingers and then tasting the faintly sweet liquid.

Later in the hourlong tour, the visitors to the Tenafly Nature Center would taste the concentrated end of the process by which maple tree sap becomes maple syrup -- on hotcakes along with cups of hot cocoa or coffee.

On Sunday, more than 200 nature lovers traveled to the center despite temperatures in the mid-30s and a steady 14 mph, nose- numbing wind to learn how sap is harvested from the sugar maple.

It was the last maple sugaring tour of the season for the center, said Debora Davidson, the center's director of education. The center holds the tours each Sunday through February and March. She estimated that half of the visitors for the entire maple sugaring season visited on Sunday.

Marie Earle came to the center with friend Vivian Lo and Lo's granddaughter Isobel Paolucci, 5, all of New York City. It was the threesome's first visit to the center. Lo had looked up maple sugaring on the Internet and saw a listing for the Tenafly event, which was close enough to justify a trip across the Hudson River.

Davidson said most of the children from communities near Tenafly see the center as almost an extension of their own back yards. But kids who've visited from Union City or Jersey City have been wowed by the more than 400 acres. The non-profit center sees an estimated 23,000 visitors each year for its 1,100 programs. Maple sugaring is the most popular of its winter programs, she said.

"The first thing they ask: 'Where are the lions and tigers? Am I going to get eaten?' " Davidson said with a laugh.

Marisa and Tim Jackson of Northvale brought their 4-year-old daughter, Alba, to the center to expose her to nature. Tim Jackson said that as a youth he spent most of his time in the outdoors and took frequent trips to see friends in Syracuse, N.Y.

Anthony Mendez and his wife both grew up in New York City but now live in Englewood. …

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