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Take heart: the maples are stirring and the sugaring season is just about here

Alexandria Wells/Associated Press

If you’re like us, you plod into winter in deep December dreading the cold and the muddy slush. Come late February the loathing is mostly gone – maybe because you’ve gotten used to the cold, or perhaps you know nicer weather is just a few weeks away.

Our spirits improved significantly recently when we realized the maples were stirring and the sugaring season was nigh. Mass Audubon, among others, has begun organizing visits and tours of its sanctuaries that have sapping and sugaring operations. It’s time again to go see how the time-tried tradition is carried out as the warmer days of late winter awaken the trees and the sap begins to flow.


Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon holds a nighttime “Behind the Scenes” program on Friday beginning at 7 p.m. Geared for adults, it includes tastings of syrup and drinks made with it, a night hike to the sanctuary’s farmhouse, sap house, and sugar shack, an up-close tour of its equipment and processes, and a course on how Moose Hill, located at 293 Moose Hill Parkway, takes the sap from its more than 150 taps and turns it into syrup.

Then, two family-oriented sessions take place Saturday and Sunday at the organization’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield in “sugaring off tours” for all ages from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“Learn how to identify a sugar maple, observe tapping and sap-collection methods, watch the sap being boiled down in the sugarhouse, and get a sweet taste of the final product,” the sanctuary, at 87 Perkins Row, says in a release. Dress warmly and wear warm waterproof boots, it adds, since you’ll be outside for an hour and the trails may be wet, muddy, or snow-covered.

Closer to the city, the Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Mattapan holds a program suitable for all ages 5 and up on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.


“Join us as we tap, collect, and boil down sap from the maple trees found at the Boston Nature Center,” exhorts the sanctuary, at 500 Walk Hill St. “You will learn about the different techniques and equipment used across New England and why sugar maples are so unique.”

For more information on these and other programs, visit www.massaudubon.org.

Mardi Gras in . . . Weston? Yes, indeed – although not the parades and wild parties that everyone knows are happening in New Orleans on Tuesday. The Mardi Gras in Weston is an exhibition on view now through March 20 at the Regis College Fine Arts Center’s Carney Gallery, 235 Wellesley St., in which Robert Freeman captures the vibrancy of the Mardi Gras Indians and their traditions and rituals that go back centuries to Africa and the original tribes of America. An opening reception for the artist and his “Mardi Gras Indians and Other Works” takes place Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Visit www.regiscollege.edu/fac.

Some worthy fund-raisers, briefly: In Beverly, the third annual “North Shore Shelter Fest” (photo above) takes place on Saturday from 3 to 10 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 221 Cabot St. Proceeds from the festival, featuring nine jazz and rock bands headlined by Jon Butcher Axis, go toward supporting affordable housing through Harborlight Community Partners. Visit www.fbcbeverly.org.


In Lowell, the second annual “Giving Glamorously” charitable evening benefiting the Lowell Transitional Living Center takes place on Thursday from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the East End Social Club of Lowell, 15 West Fourth St. Former professional boxing champion Micky Ward, a hometown hero to many, is tapped to make a special appearance, and University of Massachusetts Lowell music professor Alan Williams is providing the music, along with Saucy Entertainment. Visit www.ltlc.org.

In Quincy, the Saint Rock Haiti Foundation is raising funds for a new health clinic being built in Saint Rock, Haiti, with a “Building Hope Together” gala on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. at the Granite Links Golf Club, 100 Quarry Hills Drive. The organizers say happily that the Flatley Foundation will match all funds up to $200,000 raised for this event. Visit www.saintrock.org.

L. Kim Tan can be reached at tan@globe.com.