Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Maple Syrup Festival Fun

Fresh from the sugar bush

New adventures are always welcomed here. Sometimes these sudden adventures come at a moment's notice and end up being a highlight of our week. Just like all those other special memories stumbled upon to date during our journey while living in the eastern parts of Canada, this weekend was no exception for planting yet one more special memory into our heart banks.

My favorite sister (the only sister I have) arrived for a weekend visit after realizing her business travel was just over the border in the state of New York, a very do-able road trip for spending her free weekend in between the two work weeks with our family. I personally was very excited to play hostess for our short time together as she has never been able to visit us while we've lived nearer to her the past few years.

On Friday evening she arrived shortly before the sun set and darkness soon fell upon us, laughing about surviving the thrust of rush hour through long corridors of the QEW highways and then along a series of 400 highways soon after. Our family porter (older son) retrieved her bags from her rental car and it was time to let the visit begin.

Good morning everyone!

Evenings were spent catching up over gourmet dinners courtesy of my husband or one of the local restaurants we thoroughly enjoyed dining in, the three of us chatting long into the evening together.

Our niece asked if she could join the party here and drove up from her eastern GTA area arriving midmorning Saturday to spend the better part of the day with everyone. She said she wanted to be where two of her aunties would both be at one time, and of course had a great desire to also see everyone else. Our older son and her share the same birthday in a few weeks, both bonded by special birth dates and reveled in the fact it wasn't far from now before they'd both be celebrating.

Cousins all

Everyone was pleased at the prospect of seeing her again. It seemed so long ago we were all together at Christmas. Her visit was especially thrilling to our young daughter who waited with baited breath at the window to be able to announce her cousin's arrival and already had her cluster of webkinz pets ready to place on display, after sharing their love of these adorable pets during our last visit. Afterall her collection now had grown since her one and only pet beforehand. She was hanging around her cousin again after bonding to her instantly last Christmas when she and her husband joined us for dinner and never really left her side the entire day while she was gathered here near to our family.

As it happened the initial dreary weather cleared up and soon we were marveling over the temperature rising upwards to the high eighties, having to begin removing our coats to enjoy the fine summer-like day as a few of us began to drive off to attend a Maple Syrup Festival not too far away.

Maple syrup facts & the taste testing area of one vendor

Light, Medium or Dark; Our niece was our taste tester

Not having any personal previous experience as a connoisseur as an attendee at a Maple Syrup Festival before, we weren't exactly sure just what to expect. Very soon after our arrival, our niece took it in her stride to begin a taste tasting small samples of syrup from each vendor, carefully accessing each sample from booth to booth in a search quest for the best syrup around. We were banking on her taste buds for our final syrup purchases, and she was so good at this task, we all ended up buying our stock from the same vendor below.

Each vendor exhibited their prize ribbons, and soon this was the very booth our niece guided us to for the most delicious quality of taste testing syrup trials.

Hoards of people packed roadways and were present for the same reason, and so many merchant booths were available with a variety of items on display. The pancake breakfast served all day had an incredible line-up well after the noon hour that saw folks lingering in long lines along the sidewalks. Boy, those pancakes were a draw but the line-up made us change our mind real fast.

Ontario Maple Syrup and sugar bush tours are plentiful for any tourist or local resident to keep their pantry stocked with delectable confectionery fineries such as syrup, maple sugar, maple spread, maple toffee and drops. We found fresh maple syrup as an ingredients in natural hand lotions and handmade soaps. Boy we smelled great!

Wall to wall people attended this annual Maple Syrup Festival

It was interesting to note all of the sugar bush steel containers for sale at each booth, later remembering what my father had suggested when visiting here with us last Christmas, that we should try to tap a tree of two in our own back property just to see what might end up in a bucket hanging from it. Any residual in the maple syrup department would be a good thing. Well maybe. Something else to learn about for sure though...someday.

Did you know...

Maple syrup came improve your health? It can because it contains large concentrations of antioxidants (phenols). Antioxidants help prevent heart disease, prevent cancer, and the risk of other age-related health issues. Phenols bound to sugar contained in maple syrup have a higher antioxidant capacity than those that are not bound to a sugar. Although maple syrup still contains calories just like any other type of sugar, it also contains important minerals to fuel your body, minerals such as; zinc, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. Next time you pour on your true (not fake such as those in the stores) and real maple syrup, remember it's good for you. (smile)

Youngsters begged parents to enjoy a ride in the carnival fair area and the midway was jam packed with fun games to play. Oodles of assorted culinary temptations grabbed our senses; everything from the scent of freshly popped popcorn, fresh sweet corn rolled in butter and placed on a stick, but for us, the fresh signature fry truck's delicious odor got our vote and we all decided to share a large dish together, all doused with vinegar.

The "Fry truck", the place to be but so very busy!

Later, it was famous long-lined schnauzer hot dog vendor supporting the local baseball players that we caught a whiff of and my sister had to snap the photo below because they looked so darned good.
My sister wasn't able to leave the smell of this vendor easily

Vendors were everywhere making aisles down the center of the roadways, tented unit makeshift stores were back to back and crowds thickened everywhere the live music was situated.

Fat quarters anyone? So many lovely colors are on display

We caught a fabric store opened not seen before and we drooled all over all those fat quarters nicely placed near to the front window.

The sudden onset of higher temperatures caused a few issues for her and my sister. What messes they were experiencing with ice cream melting faster than they could consume it.
As the heat rose higher, we all felt like we were melting so the day would never have been complete without a visit to the water's edge and one of the licky-licks available from the DQ nearby. Some (ah-hem) couldn't seem to contain their chocolate dipped cones from the melting ice cream inside and had a terrible time with leaks spilling underneath and onto the picnic table we shared. What a mess with the unexpected heat wave in our midst, but hello summer was the general feel of the day...that is until quite a bit of humidity swept up and became instant havoc to my poor hubby with his lung issues. Poor guy - he had a bit of a rough night dealing with its presence.

After our niece departed, a severe thunder and lightning storm blew through the area and forked lightning was upon us with a fierce rain shower. We weren't sorry for the rain, an overdue moistness our trees and ground required in this season of spring. One can just imagine the area we reside in with all the trees present having forest fire warning system in place throughout the year, so no doubt the firemen loved this rainstorm too.

I thought my eyes were fooling me the following day as the grass seemed so much greener and blossoms had opened up overnight in the gardens and throughout the forest floor out yonder.

Quick visits capture a true essence of time well spent with those we love. Better to have a bit of time when family are already in the local area than no time at all. And besides, the children created a mini-me for my sister on the Wii game system and introduced her to bowling and baseball. She was laughing hard and having fun so we know - she'll be back again. (wink, wink...)

Stolen moments were ours this past weekend, joyful hours spent doing whatever came natural. Saying goodbye though never comes easy, so until we meet again is still our motto.

A photo with my hubby, another with me.
Where was my tripod on such an occasion? Sheesh.

So long, until next time then... love you sister!