Ed's Corner

Ed’s Corner

February 19, 2015
a group of people hiking

Looking for Maples in Cliffside Park

Quick. What state, city, town or geographic region do you immediately think of if someone (like me, right now) says to you “Maple Syrup”?

I’ll bet not many of you said “Cliffside Park, New Jersey”, four miles from the George Washington Bridge.
Maples through a glass, darkly
Maples through a glass, darkly
For the last three years we have been going out to libraries in the metro area to present our Maple Sugaring program. Some of the program is indoors, learning about the history of making maple syrup and the biology of maple trees. It’s interesting to learn about those kinds of things but the most important, critical part of the program is going outdoors and tapping a real maple tree. So, this means we have to scout out the library grounds before the library can even advertise the event. No maple, no program.

On one recent scouting mission to the Cliffside Park Public Library I met the animated, welcoming librarian who had contacted us and we both went outside looking. We first crossed the street in front of the library to a very tiny park, surrounded on all sides by roads, but beautiful. And trees we found!: Sugar Maple, Silver Maple, Norway Maple. And we knew that the temperature was warm enough for the sap to be flowing/moving  inside at least the Silver Maple. How? Looking to the top of this tree we found two of the cutest squirrels, sitting most comfortably on different thin branches, ignoring us, leisurely licking and sucking the sap from places where they had chewed off the buds or where there may already have been a cut or wound. As we watched them we looked up beyond the tree tops and saw a beautiful rainbow in the sky! A better ‘sign’ one could not wish for.The good news – yes, there are maple trees. the bad news – they are in a public park. And we want to stay away from political entanglements. Although the promise of maple syrup could sweeten any town council member’s heart – and palate.

So to the back of the library we went and found, on library property, a large Norway Maple. The Sugar Maple tree gives the sweetest sap (thus its name) but the Norway Maple will do just fine. This tree, located behind the library, also will keep the bucket on the tree away more from the public eye. We will arrange with the librarian’s help to designate some local families to keep an eye on the bucket, gather the sap, boil it down to syrup at home. Then at the end of Maple time when the sap stops dripping, to remove the spout from the tree, do nothing to the hole, it will heal by itself.


Winter weather shapes
In my winter outings I am consistently surprised by just looking at what’s in front of me. What seems like a lot of white snow, salt, and ice at first glance can provide just as rich a template for discovery as a green summer’s day.

This bear reflects in a hand-held mirror while stepping on to her circus ball
This bear reflects in a hand-held mirror while stepping onto her circus ball


This hungry sock puppet eats a meatball
This hungry sock puppet eats a meatball