Friday, March 19, 2010

Maple syrup, Catching Fire

What do maple syrup and Catching Fire have in common? Of course, it is the spile. What is a spile, you ask? It is a very important tool if you want to make maple syrup, and it is also a life-saving tool in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. More precisely it is a spout used to get sap from trees. You can find a great picture of a metal spile in From Maple Trees to Maple Syrup.

A fascinating place to visit to learn about spiles is the Sugar Bush Fair at the Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg. This very popular event takes place Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 from 9 a.m. to noon. Demonstrations and hands-on activities give lots of opportunity to see different types of spiles. Visitors are also introduced to methods of sap collecting and syrup production. General admission is free. Tickets for a pancake breakfast with real maple syrup are available to purchase. Breakfast is held under a tent, so dress for outdoor weather.

If you have a teenager who isn't anxious to be seen in public with his/her family, you might be able to entice them to go along with you by casually mentioning the connection to Catching Fire, the second book in the wildly popular Hunger Games trilogy. In this action-packed science fiction thriller, Katniss uses the gift of a spile to try to survive in the arena. Be warned, there is a cliff-hanger ending and the third book, Mockingjay, doesn't come out until August.

I hope these ideas help you have a sweet time with your child. (Don't tell your teenager I said that.)

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