maple tree

our maple tree, showing its foliage in fall 2013

when we moved our chickens a few weeks ago, we decided to put their mobile pen and house underneath a small maple tree that we have in our front yard. in order to do this, i had to prune some of the smaller branches that came lower than my height, so that we could attach the bird netting to the top of the pen (keeping chickens in and swooping hawks out). without removing some of the smaller, downward growing limbs and twigs, the netting would have been tangled and ridiculously hard to hang up.

the pruning of the lovely maple and the hanging of the netting went off without a hitch, but i noticed something interesting the next morning…

the weather had been below freezing the night we pruned the tree and there were many little (and some not-so-little) icicles formed where we had cut off small limbs and twigs. some of these icicles were 6 or 7 inches long and remained all day. i broke off one and sampled it! and behold… nature’s first popsicle! i certainly tasted a faint sweetness in the frozen sap.

maple popsicle

a delicious maple popsicle, formed at the end of a trimmed twig

i’ve recently learned that one of the legends about how the native americans first discovered the sweet sap of the maple was by stumbling across icicles formed at the end of broken twigs, just like me!

whether or not this legend is true, i certainly learned a lesson that day: discovering things accidentally by doing and by experimenting (as we adapted our netting to work around the tree) is often the best way to learn new things. because while researching and just already knowing things is valuable, sometimes you just need a new “ah ha!” moment to get your gears turning.

now our gears are turning and we’re thinking… “what about harvesting sap from some of our maples to supply us with the delicious maple syrup that we love?”

and now the seed of a new idea has sprouted, watered by the experience of trying that maple tree popsicle!