So today was our yearly field trip to the district nature center to travel back in time and "live like a pioneer". For any of you not versed in Michigan history, that means visiting the log cabin and barn, and heading to the "Sugar Shack" to see how sap is magically turned into maple syrup. The kids absolutely love, love, love it! They get to try out tools the pioneers used (saw, corn planter, grinding wheel, etc.), bake cookies in the cabin, make candles, play with pioneer toys, tap a sugar maple tree, and watch sap being boiled into delicious maple syrup. It's a full day of learning and fun. It's exciting to see the kids of today experience how different life was years ago.
But today, being March in Michigan, the weather was chilly and rainy and just yucky. I had reminded all the little ones to make sure and wear boots and bring coats and hats today. And being the wonderful group of kids they are, today they arrived with their little sack lunch in hand and dressed in boots and rain gear. They were ready! No weather was going to stop us from having fun today! Lucky for me, my daughter had purchased me the perfect gift last Christmas - a pair of rubber rain boots with warm socks. I was prepared! For once, I wouldn't be freezing and improperly dressed for an outdoor, all day field trip.
The best part of the day for me was when we were in the maple trees. The guide was showing the students how to tap the spile into the tree. They had just measured the tree to make sure it was big enough to be tapped. (See how much we learn in 3rd grade?) As one little girl turned the hand drill into the tree, another little boy skipped off to another tree. And I overheard this as he wrapped his arms around the tree and hugged it:
"Oh, hi, maple tree. You are a strong, good tree. But you aren't big enough yet to be a tree to give me maple syrup. You need to wait another 10 years. Don't be sad, tree. One day you will make sweet maple syrup."
I smiled as I watched him join us again as the sap dripped into the bucket and the amazed little students watched and oohed and aahed. They tasted the sap and smiled and giggled and made faces and asked questions.
As we left today, I thought about my little tree hugger. This wonderful, sweet little boy talking to the trees.
And that, my friends, is one of the many reasons I love my job. My day was spent in the trees and in a "Sugar Shack" and in a log cabin making cookies.
It just doesn't get much better than that.