Since we have discovered the joy and ease of maple sap collection, I’ve developed keen eyes for the maple trees. At the beginning of spring the maples bud before the other trees, and the treetops turn into a burst of red against the sky.
One grey day I decided to go flag all the maples in our general habitat zone. There were about 5x as many as I thought, more than 30, and the dog patiently slogged through the underbrush with me to each one, as I saw yet another telltale red treetop and went to flag it.
I cannot tell the difference between rock (sugar) maples, and red (not so sugary) maples at this stage. I can tell before the buds open and go all red, but I missed that. By next year we will probably have distinguished between the two kinds, but for now, I was just flagging all maples, mostly so we don’t get carried away and cut any down, but also so that we can keep an eye on them and figure out which are which.
There are only a few days that the buds are out announcing themselves, and raining the telltale sprinkling of red flowers onto the ground. I look first at the ground, and then up, to see which tree is dropping them.