Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring, farms and art

We love visiting farms in the spring. Witnessing nature's slow and gentle awakening is a great way to shake off the winter slumber and connect with the rhythms of the seasons.

I see people of all ages at the farms, from babies to grandparents, getting a glimpse at the newborn animals, taking in the scent of the freshly sprouted flowers and getting a hand on the first vegetables. It is a time for renewal and celebration.
The more farms we visit, the more I notice the arts in every corner. Farming is a cultural practice, and we humans tend to weave the arts into most of our daily life. With each festival and celebration of nature people sing, dance, tell stories, paint, and the list goes on.

We got to taste the sugary sap straight from the maple tree.

We started the season with a visit to the Natick Community Organic Farm for their Maple Magic Day. We first filled up our bellies with pancakes at the neighboring school and danced to a lovely folk band. Then, we toured the farm and learned about different sugaring techniques throughout our history.

We learned about Native American sugaring techniques. We were greeted by the beat of the drums and smoke from a branch of sage, followed by some good old story telling...

We heard an old Native American tale, about how the first people were able to get maple syrup just by snapping off a branch from a maple tree and letting the syrup drip into their mouths. People were no longer fishing in the fields, collecting berries from the forest, farming or hunting. They were all just laying there with their mouths open. Well, when Manabozho (a benevolent spirit) saw what was happening he thought it was no good. Soon all the people would be lazy and fat! So he went to the river and filled a very large basket with water. He then poured the water on top of the maple trees so that it would thin the syrup. From then on, people would have to work very hard to make syrup from the tree's sap.*

*I tried very hard to remember the tale as it was told on the day of the visit, but I had to search our handy internet to fill in the big gaps in my memory. I found a close version here.

We also learned about the techniques used during colonial times. Which were also laborious despite the introduction of cast iron.

After visiting the modern day shed for making syrup, with electricity and steel, we went home with some delicious organic maple syrup, which we have enjoyed with delicious homemade pancakes. Yum.

For those of you in Massachusetts, here is a list of farm/spring 2012 events:

March 31 - Woolapalooza From Sheep to Sweater and Everything in Between, Drumlin Farm

April 1, 7 - Easter Egg Hunt, Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary, Norton

April 27-29 - Daffodil Weekend Festival, Nantucket

May 20 - Spring Spectacular, Natick Community Organic Farm

Visit any time the Turtle Lane Maple Farm for a Free Tour, North Andover

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