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Families learn art, science of making maple syrup

ELBURN – Curtis Pierce of Elgin tried to give his 9-year-old grandson, Dallas Bauer, a boost of confidence Saturday while he practiced drilling techniques on a maple tree at Johnson’s Mound Forest Preserve near Elburn.

“Come on, push, push,” said Pierce, urging him on.

Dallas was one of several youngsters who discovered how challenging it is to get sap out of a maple tree. As part of the forest preserve’s annual Maple Sugaring Days event, kids were given hand drills to practice on trees that were cut down.

“Maple trees have hard wood,” said Dallas, picking up the hand drill again and giving it another try.

Snow on the ground made it hard to believe that spring is around the corner. But Pierce took it in stride.

“What other time a year can you see maple syrup?” he asked. “I think this is pleasant. If the sun wasn’t shining, it wouldn’t be so nice.”

Those who went to the event learned the process of making maple syrup. Volunteer Susan Frankel told youngsters that the sap “looks like water when it comes out of the tree.”

But the sap became more recognizable as syrup when it sat on the open fire in front of Frankel.

“You boil the sap down and the water evaporates,” she said. “What you end up with is concentrated sugar. It takes 40 gallons of sap from trees to make one gallon of syrup.”

Participants also found out what real maple syrup tastes like by trying samples from Funks Grove, which makes syrup just south of Bloomington-Normal.

“It tastes like caramel,” said 6-year-old Spencer McCall of Campton Hills.

Stacy McCall brought Spencer and her other son, Preston, 2, to the event.

“We like doing stuff outdoors,” she said. “And before we came here, Spencer had been learning about maple syrup by watching ‘Curious George.’ ”

Maple Sugaring Days continued from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Johnson’s Mound Forest Preserve, 41W600 Hughes Road, Elburn.

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