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It was a sunny and beautiful morning as I was making my way along the trail in Whitemud Ravine. Something, however, was not right. I was not able to put my finger on it, but you could hear. Like droplets of a light morning rain on the leafs of the canopy. Except, it was not raining, the sky was blue and the sun was rising. I was not sure what to make of it. I was not imagining the sound. It was coming from a large paper birch at the edge of the trail. I carefully scanned the trunk, branches and canopy of the birch, but that did not provide any clues to the source of the sounds. Was I loosing my marbles? Had my dogs stopped barking? Were the wheels turning, but the hamster gone? Was I going nuttier than a hoot owl? I hesitated and slowly walked closer to the birch. The sound was still there but still no clue. I was dumbfounded. I held out my hand, like I was half expecting to feel rain droplets on my hand…, except it was definitely not raining…, except, that is when I felt it. Something landed in the palm of my hand. Something tiny and light as a feather. As I zoomed in my eyes on the palm of my hand, there it was. A seed hull from the paper birch. What happened then was remarkable, it was like my eyes and my brain recalibrated their search image. As I raised my eyes I could now see them, thousands upon thousands of seed hulls and samaras raining down from the paper birch canopy high above me. I could feel them land on my face as I looked up. The seed hulls are like shells surrounding the actual seed, or samara. A samara is a fruit with thin wings. The maple “helicopter” seeds are perhaps the most well known samara, but many other species of trees have samaras as well, including birches, ashes and elms. The purpose of samaras and their paper thin wings is to disperse and help the plant to spread its offspring. It is curious how this tree was releasing a mass of samaras all at the same time. That is probably not just a coincidence and it begs the question what triggered the release of the seeds? Is it an environmental cue or do they all ripen simultaneously? So far, I have not been able to find any information about this phenomenon online.
May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.