Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's Maple Sugar Time in New England!!

Mom the buckets are filling, the buckets are filling!! I heard an excited voice call to me from across the woods. Throughout New England from the beginning of February to around the end of April, trees are being tapped and buckets are over flowing with the sweet sap that becomes New England's world renowned maple syrup! New England generates close to  500,000 gallons of maple sugar per year, Vermont is the largest producer, New Hampshire produces approximately 90,000 gallons followed by Massachusetts who produces about 50,000 gallons. Maine and Connecticut produce as well. If you live in New England or are planning a trip to the area, include a maple sugaring event!

New England Maple Sugaring Events:


Mass Audubon Maple Sugaring Events
Old Sturbridge Village Maple Days

New Hampshire


  • The Maple Syrup Book, Janet Eagleson and Rosemary Hasner
  • The Maple Sugar Book: Together With Remarks on Pioneering As a Way of Living in the Twentieth Century (The Good Life Series), Helen and Scott Nearing  
Childrens Books:
  • Maple Syrup Season, Ann Purmell
  • Sugaring, Jessie Haas

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowed in? Strap on your detective hat and get outside!

With feet not inches of snow on the ground and more snow coming, you may be wondering what to do when you are all snowed in. Try throwing open the front door and embracing Mother Nature's gift! Strap on your boots or a pair of  snow shoes and set out on a hunt for animal tracks.

If you have children, this is a wonderful opportunity to create a mystery as you try to figure out where an animal was going and what they were doing. By looking carefully at animal tracks you can learn more about their comings and goings. No children in tow? Animal tracking is just as fun for adults and can be very addicting!
First, you will need a helpful resource to get you started. Check out the Outdoor Action Guide to Animal Tracking. A pocket guide to animal tracks is a must. There are simple guides and more sophisticated guides.

After your tracking adventure is finished, there are many books written about animal tracks that are perfect for reading to kids. Some of my favorite books for children are:
  • Big Tracks, Little Tracks, Selsam, Millicent
  • Tracks in the Wild, Bowen Betsy
  • Whose Tracks are These?, Nail, Jim
  • Wild Tracks!, Arnosky, Jim
  • In the Snow: Who's been here?, George, Lindsay Barret
  • Tracks, Scats and Signs, Dendy, Leslie
If you are in search of an adult read:
  • Scats and Tracks of North America: A Field Guide to the Signs of Nearly 150 Wildlife Species (Scats and Tracks Series), Halfpenny, James
  • Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks: Third Edition, Olau, Murie J.
  • Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign, Rezendes, Paul
Your local Audubon chapter should offer tracking classes and is a great resource to learn more about this fun activity. And, tracking does not need to end when winter is over. A fun project is to make an animal track box in your own back yard.

Don't forget that there are plenty of activities that include the familiar sledding, ice skating, and skiing so go on outside and embrace!!