Spring is finally here! To me, it means two things: more camping and gardening. So we spent the first day of spring planting and planning our next week’s trip to Algonquin. Our garden is not really a garden, just an assortment of containers and planters on the balcony, and I know it will create problems down the line once we start spending more time away and will need to find someone to water the plants. Yet every year I can’t resist a temptation to grow something from a seed. It is fascinating to watch a tiny speck turn into a full-grown plant. When I think about what I want to do when I get older, there is a part of me that dreams of a cabin away from people with a big garden. And then there is another part that just wants to hit the trail and never come back. To borrow a phrase from Erin McKittrick, author of Small Feet, Big Land Adventure, Home, and Family on the Edge of Alaska, I am a rooted wanderer.
Now to the wandering part. On the last day of winter, we decided to go to Kortright Centre for Conservation. We visited it in January, but had little time to explore back then, plus it was during the pre-geocaching era of our lives so there were a few caches waiting for us.
The park looked a complete opposite of the deserted, foggy place that greeted us last time. With the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival in full swing, it was bursting with activity. There were wagon rides, a straw maze, giant board games, live music, beer garden and, of course, sweet smell of maple syrup in the air.
We decided to start with some hiking and geocaching. Geocaches at Kortright were more complicated than anything we’d seen before. They required finding specific numbers on information panels, matching trees to descriptions, adding and subtracting to get the coordinates. Our search took us to the archetypal sustainable house (actually, there are two of them, one demonstrates sustainable practices that already exist, and the other one showcases technologies of the future); a bee hotel; and a wind energy field. (Kortright Centre is big on promoting sustainability and green living. In addition to demonstrations and tours, they offer a variety of workshops, including suitability workshops, a beginner’s beekeeping course, and lots of nature-related activities for children and adults).
Our feet pounded many trails, through forests and fields, but hard as we tried we couldn’t find a single geocache. After a record number of 15 (see the previous post), it was a bit of a comedown.
Our son suggested we abandon our search for the day and go get maple syrup lollypops. So that’s what we did.
We then proceeded down the Maple Syrup Trail, where we learned all sorts of facts about maple syrup production and different technologies used through the years: from indigenous people who collected sap into wooden troughs and used hot stones to vaporize most of the water, to settlers with buckets and cauldrons, to modern day farmers who have plastic tubes bring sap down to the shack and then boil it in large metal tubs with fire going underneath.
We ended the day by a bird-feeder watching chickadees and woodpeckers hop around.
And that was our last day of winter: sunny, with a bit of chill in the air and filled with sweetness.