Evolution of a beloved sugar maple

Under the tree by Bruce Stambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

The sugar maple in our backyard and I go way back.

When my wife and I purchased our current home 33 years ago, only three trees graced the acre and a half. That had to change for several reasons.

Trees provide so many benefits to any property, urban, suburban or rural. Trees add both an aesthetic and economic real estate value.

Close up by Bruce StambaughBesides their beauty, trees provide practical purposes, too. In summer, their shade serves as a natural air conditioner. They prove a reliable windbreak against harsh winter winds. As a bird enthusiast, I wanted a mixture of trees that would supply a nice habitat for a variety of birds year-round.

The sugar maple that now dominates the middle of our backyard was just one of several trees that I transplanted from our property near Killbuck, Ohio to our current residence near Mt. Hope. I did so in the fall, the optimal time to transplant since trees are dormant.

I dug the tree out of our hillside woods. The soil was so loose and gravely it all fell off. I wrapped the bare-rooted maple in burlap, and headed east. By the time I had reached our soon to be home, it was dark. I stabbed the ground with the pointy tree shovel, pulled the earth back, slipped the roots into the moist ground, stamped it closed and left.

Later in the light of day, I trimmed all of the limbs and the top third off the tree to let the roots take hold the first year. And did they ever. In three decades, the little sugar maple has grown into a full, mature, shapely tree. It is the jewel in the leafy crown of our modest domain.
Blue and orange by Bruce Stambaugh
Over the many years it has endured a lot, including serious damage from the remnants of a hurricane, a severe thunderstorm gust and an ice storm. Each time I carefully patched the exposed flesh as if it were an injured child.

The sugar maple has hosted innumerable bird nests during its life, birthing many different songbird species. Other birds and animals big and small have sought sanctuary in its embracing arms and expansive, dense canopy. Most were wanted. Others, like the family of raccoons that raided the bird feeders, were not.

Backyard birds use the tree as a launching pad to the nearby feeders. Nuthatches and woodpeckers wedge sunflower seeds into the crackled, flaking bark to crack open the shells to get to the sunflower meat.

My verdant friend hosts free entertainment, too. Late spring to early fall Ruby-throated Hummingbirds take turns waiting in ambush on a favorite perch for other hummers coming to the sugar water feeder that hangs by our kitchen window. It’s pure joy to watch them chase and chatter after one another.

Over the top by Bruce Stambaugh

The sugar maple tree is a beauty in any season, but particularly in October. With each bright sunrise, a warm orange glow streams through the windows into the house. The tree’s crown blazes high above the rooftop, contrasting nicely with the backdrop of the evergreen of queued white pines against the stubbled cornfield.

The sugar maple paints a new autumn scene each October day. In less than a month, the leaves of my stately arbor ally turn from rich emerald to glowing gold, and all too soon drop in feathery waves.

Even leafless, the sugar maple freely shares its generous hospitality, attracting birds, critters and humans. Spring, summer, fall or winter, my old friend says welcome home.

Welcome home by Bruce Stambaugh

A week by week pictorial record of the changing of the leaves on the sugar maple follows.

Sept. 30, 2012 by Bruce Stambaugh

Sept. 30, 2012

Oct. 9, 2012 by Bruce Stambaugh

Oct. 9, 2012

Oct. 16, 2012 by Bruce Stambaugh

Oct. 16, 2012.

Oct. 22, 2012 by Bruce Stambaugh

Oct. 22, 2012.

Month's end by Bruce Stambaugh

By October’s end, the sugar maple stood bare.

This column appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

2 Comments

Filed under column, Ohio, photography, writing

2 responses to “Evolution of a beloved sugar maple

  1. The thing I miss most living in Texas versus Ohio is the changing of the colors of the leaves in the fall, I was there until Oct 8th, was able to see the beginning of the fall color. Here in Texas we have various shades of brown and rust, no golden yellow or red. Thank you for sharing the changing of the color on your sugar maple !

    Like

    • Norma,

      I’m glad you got to see a little of the color change while back in Ohio. I know what you mean about the trees in Texas. Our daughter and her family used to live in the Austin area.

      I appreciate you visiting my blog.

      Take care,

      Bruce

      Like

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