A walk in the woods sweetened this deal for him

Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

Aiden found himself caught between a rock and a sweet place Saturday.

Actually, he had both, and enjoyed them both – it wasn’t a hardship for him at all.

We took him to an open house event at a local maple syrup farm and, once we got him past the fact that there were no animals on this farm, only trees, he did just fine.

Surprisingly, we couldn’t get him interested in sampling some of the product on pancakes or ice cream – both of which were free.

We thought Aiden was thoroughly into the free food thing – at least he’s never turned it down before – but this time was different.

Apparently, he was more interested in going outside and playing in the snow, but Mee-Mee and Poppie weren’t going to turn down free food, so he was forced to wait inside with us while we sampled some of the sweet wares.

We took him into the other end of the barn, to the syrup house where they were boiling the sap down into the final product, but he was even a little wary of that.

Maybe it was all the steam billowing off the kettles where the sap was boiling, but he decided to keep his distance from this part of the event.

All that was left then was a hay wagon ride around the farm to see where the whole maple syrup process begins.

We waited patiently in line along with a number of other people until it finally came to our turn and we climbed aboard for the ride.

Our friendly guide informed us that, because of the melting snow and mud on the farm road, the tractor wasn’t able to pull the wagon up the hill and into the woods.

Instead, she said, we could get off the wagon and hike up into the woods – a walk of about four blocks, she explained – where we could learn all about how the sap was collected from the trees.

As soon as Aiden heard “walk in the woods,” he was hooked.

Never mind the fact that Mee- Mee and Poppie couldn’t guarantee that they were up to a hike into the woods – especially since it was up the side of a hill.

We’ve always contended that we were old enough to remember walking to school everyday, six miles and uphill each way, in two feet of snow even in May, but that doesn’t mean we ever really did that.

No matter, we were soon traipsing through the mud and snow up the side of the hill toward the maple tree woods.

Aiden did have second thoughts when several of the people coming back from the woods passed us and told him there was a bear up there when he asked why they were walking down the hill.

Despite the chance to bail on this excursion, we assured Aiden that they were only kidding him and that there were no bears in the immediate vicinity, and we pressed on.

We passed through a cornfield with just the short nubs of corn stalks sticking up through the snow, which prompted a question from Aiden as to where the corn went.

We missed another opportunity to abort this venture and, instead of telling him that the bears had eaten all the corn, explained that the deer ate the corn in the winter after all the ears had been harvested last fall.

Apparently, Aiden was much less concerned about deer roaming around, hungry or not, and we pressed on.

We finally reached the trees and learned how the sap is collected and sent through plastic pipes down to the collecting house.

We even got to see the sap running through the lines on its way down the hill, even though Aiden seemed more interested in the trees than the sap coming out of them.

On our way down the hill, we caught up with a mother and her two young sons also coming back from the woods.

The oldest was about Aiden’s age, so the two of them soon started racing each other down the hill while Mee-Mee talked to the mother – leaving Poppie to try and keep up with them and not let them get too far ahead of the rest of the party.

We had a little while to wait for the next wagon to pick us up, so Aiden and his new friend went to work playing in the mud and the snow.

They found a gravel pile and pulled out a few of the large rocks to take home as souvenirs of the day.

The wagon finally showed up and we headed back to the car to head home, Aiden still carrying his keepsake rock.

Somehow, we couldn’t convince him that we should take home some of the maple candy – even though it certainly would have been more pleasant to suck on than his rock.

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Edward Jones