For our last full day, we got out of the city, driving about 30 minutes to an organic farm in Natick. We were able to learn about the beginning of maple sugar processing by indigenous people in the area.
This farm still produces syrup today (some of us bought some to bring home) and while the equipment is modern, the approach is largely the same: save a LOT of sap and boil off the water. 40+ gallons of sap makes one gallon of syrup. Our guide noted that the weather for this “sugar season” was not favorable. Generally speaking, sap is starting to run earlier in the year but a run of warm days without cold nights will put an early stop to the season. This farm can produce 200 gallons per season but this year made less than 100. Climate instability may eventually make maple sugar production impossible in areas we take it for granted.
Later in the day, we enjoyed a picnic lunch and a guided stroll around Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and writer, lived.
Finally it was time to start working on our ‘zines. We had a takeout pizza/pasta/salad dinner at the hotel and began crafting. A local alumna and member of the Alumnae Association Council, Maggie Bownes Johnson ’83 joined us for ice cream and conversation about her work in STEM. An alumna of both Emma Willard and Smith College, Maggie noted that Smith didn’t offer engineering classes when she attended. She studied math and computer science, and later got her MBA. Maggies has worked for large and small companies focusing on automation in factories. (Full disclosure: she is also Ms. McGivern’s VERY FAVORITE sister-in-law!) Thanks for coming to speak with us, Maggie!
Some worked late to add finishing touches to their ‘zines, others took the opportunity to pack and get to bed early. It was hard to believe our trip was almost over!