March in Cedar Rapids means it's maple syrup time at the Indian Creek Nature Center! To say that this is a much-anticipated event in our community may underestimate the case. Cars were lined up along Bertram Road by the time we got there this morning.
Volunteers were hard at work directing traffic, making pancakes...
...and demonstrating traditional crafts.
The syrup for your pancakes came from sap from maple trees at the nature center. The sap started running early this year, explained our guide, but then it got too warm in March and it stopped running. He said tappers took about 5 percent of the sap from each tree, so it's sustainable. (Take too much and the tree will die, see.)
So today the vats just had water boiling in them, for ambience. The syruping totals for this year:
The syrup we had on our pancakes, then, was not only delicious but precious. If you wanted seconds, and I did, you went to Glenn.
We were kept company not only by our fellow townspeople of all ages, but by the nature center's numerous displays...
...and a jazz combo that defied all stereotypes and joined us early on this Saturday morning. (Behind them is a map of the Cedar River watershed.)
While enjoying good fellowship in a place that celebrates our connection to nature, I was reminded that an advantage of the compact urban form this blog keeps promoting is that it leaves more room for natural spaces. Suburban sprawl crowds out natural spaces. If you want to live close to nature, paradoxical as it may seem, live in a city and help others to do so.
This was not only the 33rd annual Maple Syrup Festival at Indian Creek, it was the final one in the round barn that has served that nature center for decades. Work is well along on the "Amazing Space" that will serve as the nature center's new home soon.
What will happen with their old building is up in the air. Development assistant Nancy Lackner told me the building is owned by the City of Cedar Rapids, so it's theirs to dispose of. There's been talk of a bike shed (the Sac and Fox Trail runs close by) or a demonstration farm, but nothing definite. I'm sure the right decision will be made when the time comes, but I've attended so many programs and eaten so many pancakes in this old barn I'd like to go back and see it every now and then.
|The barn as barn; from indiancreeknaturecenter.org|
SEE ALSO: Cindy Hadish, "Last Maple Syrup Festival in Indian Creek Nature Center Barn," Homegrown Iowan, 18 March 2016
"Groundbreaking at Indian Creek's Amazing Space," 1 August 2015
"Maple Syrup Time!" 22 March 2015
"Maple Syrup Festival," 1 March 2014