The Fox Walkers have been soaking up the crisp sunshine (and a little bit of freezing rain!) over the past couple of weeks, and they’ve been having lots of fun while doing so!
We concluded our Tree ID learning block with a story that Pat and I made up about Mama Maple and the Samara fairies. Here’s how the story goes:
Once upon a time, there was a village of fairies. They called themselves the Samaras. One winter day, a great wind came and a branch fell and spiked itself into a Maple tree. Maple tree cried in pain. “Ouch ouch, there’s something stuck in my leg!”. The Samara fairies heard the cries of Maple and fluttered over to help. But the branch was deep. The Samaras called all of the fairies over to help pull out the branch. With much work and lots of fluttering of their wings, they almost had the branch out, but they couldn’t quite get it. Then along came the tiniest of the Samaras. With her help, the branch finally came out. Mama Maple was so thankful that the Samaras helped her. She offered the Samaras some of her sweet milk as a gift, which was dripping from the wound left by the branch.
Mmm, the Samaras couldn’t get enough of this sweet milk! They drank it day after day after day. It was all that they wanted to drink! They were hyped up on sweet Maple milk! Mama Maple decided that she would have to dilute her milk so that it wasn’t so sweet and addictive to the Samaras. So she made her milk less sweet, and told the Samaras that she will keep giving them her milk only if they help spread her seeds. So the Samaras put Mama Maple’s seeds in their wings and each Fall they flutter around like helicopters and spread her seeds. The Samaras eventually added little thorns to their wings to protect themselves from hungry Douglina the Squirrel! To this day, you can still find the achenes (known as samaras!) which hold the seeds of the Big Leaf Maple tree (as well as all other Maples). They are often referred to as “helicopters”, and the ones on the Big Leaf Maple have tiny little spikes on them!
Although the Maple “milk” (aka sap) is just the right amount of sweetness for the Samaras, humans prefer it to be much sweeter. So we like to boil it down to make as sweet as possible. . .and that’s how we get Maple syrup! This time of year, when the day time temperatures are above freezing and the night time temps are below freezing, is the right time to tap a Maple tree and collect some of Mama Maple’s Milk!
We hope you like our Samara story! Pat and I also planned on tapping a Big Leaf Maple tree with the Fox Walkers, but we just did a trial run at home and so far we haven’t had much luck harvesting the sap from the trees! It might not be cold enough at night right now. Have you tried tapping any Big Leaf Maples this season??
In addition to the learning about Maple Maple, we’re starting to deepen our awareness of our Nature Names! The Fox Walkers heard the story of how Patchy Pants got the nature name “Blue Bear”. Ask your child if they remember how that story goes!
Some additional highlights from Fox Walkers at Fairhaven over the past couple of weeks include: cooking popcorn over the fire and adding a little Maple syrup to it, finding some sprouted Big Leaf Maple seeds (samaras!!) on the ground at Nuthatch Knoll, animal tracking in the last bit of snow, adventuring to Falcon’s Nest and Holly-wood Hill, “fishing” at Salmon Bend, checking out a really cool and informative book called “Jake’s Bones”, helping with bow drill (friction fire), breaking lots of rotten branches with our fox feet!, playing a new game called Coopers Hawk and Chickadees, looking though a professional spotting scope with a friendly group of birders, and climbing Cedar trees!
Some additional highlights from Fox Walkers at Whatcom Falls over the past couple of weeks include: surviving a very very cold and wet day (with freezing rain!) and getting a lunch time fire going in our little Solo stove to help warm our bones!, finding a dead trout at Heart Home, adventuring to Otter Slide Hill where mud monsters tried to eat everyone’s boots, finding coyote scat AND hearing Barred Owls calling at Coyote Meadow!!, warming up in the sunshine in “Hawaii”, finding rainbows in the waterfalls, working on bow drill (friction fire) and making popcorn (with a dash of Maple syrup!) over the fire!
Let’s see what kind of magic is in store for us this week!!!
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