Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fleeting Glimpses Of December

Here's some of what I saw on Monday as I traveled across Ohio:

1 comment:

  1. I suspect that's another maple tree in your first picture. There's probably other trees with similar shapes and there's also probably nuances of how the branches branch off from center that would tell for sure, but for the paltry metaphysician in me, it's enough that it has the "sugarbush" shape I've come to recognize.
    Good tree-identification books are rare. They need photos of the fruit (helicopters for maples) and the young leaves of spring as well as the young bark of youth, young-adult semi-mature bark and shaggy bark of old age AND summer leaves and fall leaves and profiles of the tree adorned with leaves and naked AND detailed diagrams of the bud angles and the branch types the angles make possible.
    It would be a large project just to do something like that for the trees in your own neighborhood, let alone "the Eastern US" or whatever, so nobody does it.
    I'm not making this up. I saw a small book once that showed all these things about a small number of maple varieties. It was very enlightening--especially the part about how the character of the bark changes. A lot of maples go through a phase where their bark is smooth as a beech tree. Then the maple turns successively rough and then shaggy. In the winter, you need to go by branch patterns to distinguish an adolescent maple from a beech. If you chop a mature sugar maple down to a stump, but leave the roots alive, you'll get that sugarbush shape back in a few years just from the shoots the stump sends up.

    I'll stop now before I start talking about what an intelligent design the branches have for filling in that shape no matter how many trunks are involved.