I went for the pancakes and came away with so much more! That’s how I felt as we drove away from Cumming Nature Center last weekend after enjoying the Maple Weekend. 

Sunday morning we got up to a foggy, misty morning and decided to head straight on into the fog and enjoy the Bristol Hills and some maple syrup and pancakes. It’s a fundraiser for the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s Cumming Nature Center and we wanted to support what they had going on! 

Yes, the pancakes were delicious – as was the syrup. But, once the breakfast was over and we ventured into the Nature Center’s grounds, the surprises began. They weren’t so much “surprises” as they were “deep breath, slow down and absorb moments” as reminders of the great educational programs that the center offers.  

First stop was still inside where the displays on wildlife were intriguing many families. One mom was showing the kids a “fur” in the hands-on area and after the screaming was over, they actually did touch it and hold it tight to feel the warmth. It made me smile and reminded me of when my boys would explore the outdoors. 

Because of our maple syrup intent of the day, we went on the trail to the Sugar Shack where syrup was being made. Ironically, as many times as I’ve been to Cummings, I’d never been out that direction! It was hands-on fun at four different stations. How to tap a tree, what to do with the sap… the old way and the modern way. We visited a log cabin –and then made it to the Sugar Shack where we imbibed in some Maple Syrup Shooters.  Never have done that before, but it was so good!  

We traversed back through the Nature Center out to the area where I usually cross country ski. But, there was no snow this time, just that light, misty, pleasantly surreal fog. 

I had to show my husband and our teenage guest the Tall Pines. They are the subject of so many iconic photos of our area. Kurt had never seen them before and Jordan remembered being here with a school group, but admitted, “it sure looks different through my older eyes, this is awesome.”  Awesome it was! 

I’d been to Cumming Nature Center in brilliant sun, in snow storms, and the cool crisp fall. But, I’d never been there with the fog. It was like there was this mysterious blanket laid through the pines and along the trail. The fog was teasing me to get through it; daring us to be curious enough to see what was beyond it; and easing my mind with the simplicity of what you could see – tall gray pines with misty gray gradients, leading to the white blankets at the top. It made me feel warm, not cold. It made me want to write a poem about serenity. I thought for a moment about a couple of my favorite poems, merging in this scene. Robert Frost’s poem that contains the line … “who’s woods these are I think I know” and … ends with the famous line, “I took the one less traveled” was mixing with Carl Sandburg’s, “the fog comes in on little cats’ feet.”   

My mind wasn’t foggy; it was actually crystal clear as we exited the woods. Why then, was I seeing deer, bunnies and turtles, larger than life leaping from trees in artistic, bent wood art? Well, I was seeing it because it was there. The final surprise of our visit was picture worthy – as you’ll see here, and made me want to go back into the woods for more. Give me more maple shooters, more fog, and more time to explore what Cumming Nature Center has to offer. 

I know they have programs all year and if people have never been or haven’t been in a while – this is a great family getaway that you should all put on your summer “to-do” list.  Undoubtedly, the fog will be gone, there will be a new educational program, and the art will be changed – because the neat thing about Cumming Nature Center is that it is a living museum. Nothing stays the same and that’s a great thing!  See you on the trail!