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tapping the maple trees in woodland cemetery

Anne Dalke's picture

In anticipation of my favorite field-trip-in-the-offing, our upcoming jaunt to Laurel Hill, when I will ask you to meditate on Our First Public Parks: The Forgotten History of Cemeteries--and also on the growing desire for Green and Eco-Friendly Funerals....

today i went on a little field trip to Woodlands Cemetery in West Philadelphia with my daughter Marian. She told me that her housemate Ryan had been in the practice, years ago, of tapping the maple trees there, had been caught, and given a "lifetime injunction" against ever coming back into the cemetery. But then a new director showed up, with the bright idea of tapping the trees, making syrup, and hosting a big pancake fundraiser.So Ryan's lifetime injunction was not only lifted--he was invited back and instructed to make maple syrup.

Enter another of the community organizers Mar hangs out with. He offers the info that, in the 19th century, arsenic was the main ingredient in embalming fluids in the United States--and raises the question whether the roots of the maples syphon up the arsenic into the sap. The sap is tapped, then boiled-boiled-boiled (i.e. CONCENTRATED) to make syrup. Will all of the merry makers (i.e. fundraisers!) @ the pancake breakfast take ill...?

So now studies are being conducted. Samples are being taken, and tested.

In the interim, we strolled the interesting grounds, bringing together
past and present, dead and living....with lots of sap!