A smiling 18-month-old Angelina Giovino tugged on the lever to a gas-powered log splitter, effectively allowing it to slice through the hunk of wood as Breakheart Reservation park supervisor Anthony Guthro supervised.
Soon a small crowd gathered, eager to get a chance to command the mechanical tool, a crowd that included Guthro’s family members and grandchildren, Ashley and Micah.
Before long the family was taking a whirl with the two-person saw, cutting away at a small branch in the snow.
“It was awesome,” Anthony said. “When they get a little older it will be even better.”
Guthro’s family weren’t the only ones enjoying their morning at the Breakheart Reservation maple sugaring day.
The event included a chance to learn about the history behind maple sugaring, watching the sap drain from a tree and of course tasting some maple syrup.
A metal cauldron, filled with some sap from a local tree, was hung over an active fire pit. The water in the sap evaporated into a white smoky mist, one step in the long process that was first started in 1601 according to Department of Conservation and Recreation Ranger Barbara Buls.
Buls spent the day by the fire teaching visitors about maple sugaring and how Native Americans would have finally created the sugar.
“It is a very very long process,” she said. “It takes about 40 gallons of sap in order to get one gallon of maple syrup.”
“It’s very interesting,” said visitor and Saugus resident Paul Kiesel. “I would have never known any of this and I love maple syrup.”
Also at the reservation, Visiting Service Supervisor Jason Moreira was showing visitors pelts from local animals like coyotes, beavers and gray foxes.
“It’s so soft,” Jordan Lanley, 5, said.
A large crowd of families also gathered around local storyteller Tony Toledo, to listen to his unique tales and enjoy some pancakes and hot chocolate.
“We love going to things like this,” said Mark Newby, who attended the event with his family.
“It’s great for the community to come together, we learn new things, it’s a great start to a Saturday.