Friday, July 1, 2011

Sugar maple.

In The Crescent, downtown Vancouver, there are sugar maples.  It's good to see them.  In the eastern forests where I spent my childhood summers, they were a dominant tree, component of both canopy and understory.  They are shade tolerant, and young trees grow quickly, straining to find their place among the giants.  At some point, my friends and I discovered that if you shinnied up one of the hopeful candidates, those with trunks 3 or 4 inches in diameter, eventually the tree would start to bend.  The goal was for it to bend enough that you could let go with your legs and gently be deposited back on the ground, standing.  You would let go of the tree, and it would spring back up, little harm done. However, if the tree were less pliable than predicted, bending slightly but refusing to bow, you could find yourself up high enough that letting go would not end in a healthy result, and, arms aching, you had to decide whether to keep going higher--hoping the tree would eventually bend sufficiently--or ignominiously inch back down. The worst predicament was when the tree bent enough for you to lose your leghold, but not to the point that you were dangling close enough to earth to guarantee a safe landing when you, inevitably, let go.

I don't recall anyone getting hurt. Much.

The leaf of the sugar maple is the closest to that of the Canadian flag. 11 points.  Count 'em. In autumn, they can turn flag-red too.

Happy Canada Day.

Oh, and Canada 144 = Festival of the Trees 5 (Edition 61).   The theme is "New Discoveries," and this installment is a rich, geographically diverse read, seamlessly assembled by FOTT co-founder Dave Bonta. Go see, enjoy the trees.


sarcozona said...

My siblings and I had a game that revolved around the very bendy young trees in the woods around our home. Two would climb up until the tree was bending very far over, one would jump off, and then !sproing! - a fun ride for the one left.

We never got hurt, either. Much.

Hugh said...

Sarcozona, Well that is brilliant. We never thought of launching each other.

Dave said...

I was always a solo tree rider -- black birches or sugar maples. Got the idea from the Robert Frost poem, actually. For some reason -- I guess it was the adrenalin -- the occasional 12-foot drop to the ground never seemed like a big deal. Ah to be young and bounceable again! (Thanks for the FOTT link, by the way.)

Kim said...

Sounds like a fun game! We didn't have a lot of "bendy" trees growing up, but we always played in the creek and caught crawdads!

biobabbler said...

wow, what fun.

I remember growing up in the Sierra foothills staring up in dismay at the huge pine trees which had NO limbs for climbing for 20 feet. Staring, staring. So sad...

=) But, then there's needle-bracelets, pinecone-w-peanutbutter bird feeders, and the ever fascinating texture and destructive-to-clothing power of pine tree sap. =) Oh, and acorns and their little hats are just cute.