Tuesday, February 28, 2023

An Arboretum PhotoJournal

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It's been a minute since I did a photo album here, especially for a field trip! But on Sunday we visited the Dawes Arboretum and spent the afternoon walking through some of the grounds, and I expect we'll be visiting there frequently since we have a family membership. You might wonder what there is to see at an arboretum (that's a botanical garden devoted especially to trees) in late February when there aren't leaves on the trees! There are signs of spring to see, and the reason we chose this particular day was so that we could go on the Maple Syrup Tour. You see, this is the time of year when the sap is running!

Most of the world's maple syrup is produced in Canada (about 70% of it!), and most of that comes from the province of Quebec. Vermont and New York are the top producers in the US, but several other northeastern states get in on the game as well. Ohio is one of them, but to be honest, there's not a whole lot produced here. The growing conditions for the particular type of maple tree are more suitable further north. No big surprise that the Sugar Maple is the most suitable for tapping, but other types such as Black and Red Maples can also be tapped. So can other trees, like birches!

The sap starts flowing in early spring, and the season lasts for about a month to six weeks. The conditions needed are nights that are below freezing temperature and days that get about ten degrees above freezing. Tap holes are put into the trees, with a spout and either a bucket or hoses to collect the sap. At this point the sap is mostly clear and watery. We were invited to taste the sap and it is very slightly sweet water, and I thought it tasted like some of the vitamin infused bottled waters you can buy. 

The collected sap is filtered and boiled down to make syrup and other products. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup!

This cabin has been on the property for about a hundred years and has recently been the sugar shack, but recent windstorms blew a tree onto it, so it's currently closed to visitors.

The Maple Syrup Tour at Dawes is a very short guided walk, and once we had reached the sugar shack cabin (and had tasted the sap and some syrup), we could continue on our own. We decided to walk out to Dawes Lake at the southern end of the grounds, and to climb the observation tower beyond that. I didn't take a lot of photos, and can't identify all of the trees in my photos either. But as I said, we'll go back, so perhaps I can focus more on tree identification photos on another visit!

We didn't see many birds although the song sparrows were very vocal! This chubby robin didn't have much to say, but was good enough to hold still while I took a photo.

Looking down at all the stairs I just climbed . . .

. . . and taking a selfie to prove I was up there.

Can't make it out clearly, but the hedge spells out Dawes Arboretum.

Let me return to the maple trees again. I mentioned that it takes forty gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. The average sap from one tree per season is between ten and twenty gallons. It seems like a lot of sap until you think about how much it must be boiled down before it's syrup. In addition, there's a relatively short season to collect the sap. A tree should be at least 10 inches in diameter before it's mature enough to be tapped, which means that it should be around 40 years old. Although the tap itself doesn't hurt the tree, it does leave a wound. If the same tree is tapped year after year, the new holes should be spaced to allow the tree to heal those wounds. 

God gave those trees the ability to grow over those wounds, and to produce enough sap to feed themselves and still allow humans to enjoy a plentiful harvest of maple sap! As long as we take good care of those trees, they can produce sap to share with us for many years.

It's a pretty good example of good stewardship. God gave mankind all the plants and trees as resources and food, and he also intended for mankind to tend the Garden of Eden and to be stewards of all of the earth's resources.

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
~Genesis 1:29~

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
~Genesis 2:15~

God instructed mankind to "rule over" or "have dominion over" all the birds and fish and animals too. Not to greedily use everything up or waste it, but to look after things wisely. I've heard it said that God blessed all the creation he made and instructed living things to multiply, then blessed humans and gave us the authority to make sure all the creatures receive the blessing and are following instructions. It's as if we are God's on-site managers. The Bible even uses the image of a gardener to show how God looks after his people, and how God wants us as his representatives to care for others and for the gifts he's given us. We tend the garden, we do the work of good stewards, and God make things grow.

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God's service; you are God's field, God's building.
~I Corinthians 3:7-9~

Good stewardship is being careful to take care of God's stuff the way he wants us to. It's ALL his stuff! But isn't he generous to allow us to be blessed by all of his gifts to us?

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
~Luke 16:10~

If we show good stewardship with maple trees, we can enjoy maple syrup for years to come. When we show we can be trusted with simple responsibilities in God's kingdom, he will allow us to do great things in his kingdom, and what better blessing than to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

This post will be linked at Pictorial Tuesday, hosted by Peabea Scribbles.

This post is part of the Write 28 Days Blogging Challenge hosted by Anita Ojeda. Find all my posts for the 2023 challenge here: Write Something Somewhere

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Gayl Wright said...

I love the pictures and I love the post, Kym! We lived in NH for a few years and near us in MA was a place where they made maple syrup and had a restaurant. Parkers Maple Barn. I love your take on stewardship, too. Great post! Blessings!

Cindy Wilkins said...

I enjoyed this Kym! Fun to feel like I’m on your trip with you! We actually have a Maple Festival about thirty miles from my home every March. Syrup, candy, and the most popular maple donuts. Several local people here tap and make syrup. It is amazing how God intricately designs each and every thing he’s created!

Joanne said...

We have a few "sugar shacks" near us and we've toured one or two while they were making sap. Lots of families around here know how to tap and make their own too. I find the process fascinating... but I don't like maple syrup! (I do like products made with it though just not the actual syrup or the maple sugar candies).

Peabea Scribbles said...

My grandson tapped his tree one year to try it and make the syrup. Thanks for sharing, and I love the photos.

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