Maple sugaring time is a lot of hard work for a sweet reward.
It goes back to an era when the only sugar available in Wisconsin was obtained from maple trees, all the more precious for the labor involved.
Every year in late February and early March, when nightly freezes begin to alternate with sunshine and daily thaws, trees are tapped at Ledge View, and maple syrup is made. School groups spend the day at the park, learning about trees and the history and basic chemistry of Wisconsin's native sugar. The kids select a maple tree and tap it. They taste and collect sap. They discover what real maple syrup tastes like.
The seasons are changing at this time, so it's exciting to be outdoors. Snow melts; the first chipmunk is heard; a snowstorm buries all in white again; the first sallow moths, mourning cloak butterflies, and comma butterflies are seen in the warming air and in the sap. Robins are heard in the park.
At about that time, the pancake maker gets cleaned up. The season ends with the Friends group's pancake breakfast fundraiser and open house, Maple Syrup Sunday, with free participatory tapping tours of the sugarbush. Then all the Vermont buckets come down, are washed, and packed away till next year.