Students at The Cobb School may have grown tired of crunching through snow at recess or being wind-whipped on their walks in the woods, but their exasperation was put in perspective last Friday when they discovered the plight of maple sugarers during this harsh winter.
Ron Kasulaitis, Simsbury firefighter and owner of Hidden Pond Sugarhouse at 75 Great Pond Road, visited The Cobb School to present lessons on maple sugaring and to tap trees throughout the campus. Kasulaitis spoke with children as young as 3 and braved the cold, as he does every day, to demonstrate tree tapping. The children watched with curiosity as Mr. K. drilled the holes, plugged the spouts, and secured the buckets. They received a firsthand lesson on what it means to work outdoors in bitter weather and the labors of love maple sugaring demands.
Cobb’s Lower Elementary students, ages 6 to 9, had different questions for Mr. Kasulaitis than their Primary counterparts, and the Upper Elementary students, ages 9 to 12, carried the lessons even further, asking about choosing the trees, boiling and filtering the sap, and the current locations of Kasulaitis’s 1258 taps. Kasulaitis discussed the grading system and the process by which the warmer weather pushes sap up the trunk and out the spouts. He explained how taxing maple sugaring is: the hard work of tapping trees, weather-watching, stoking the fires, boiling and re-boiling sap, and bottling syrup.
While Kasulaitis and sugarers like him wait for the magic temperature and the syrup to finally run, most children continue to unconsciously pour syrup onto their pancakes. Cobb’s students no longer claim ignorance. They understand the process; they appreciate the work. And when March goes out like a lamb, and syrup slides across their plates, Cobb’s children will dip in with appreciation.