Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Under the buttonball tree

I've slipped a sycamore seed pod (aka buttonball) into the mix of sweetgum and magnolia pods plus homemade ornaments on the kitchen table to uphold Iowa's place in the field of natural Christmas decor (the other pods are native Alabamans) now that the season is winding down.

It would be possible to bedeck an entire tree with home-grown decorations gathered along trails and fencelines and in fields around here and I probably could do it --- if I weren't so blamed lazy. Have trouble getting a tree with storebought decor organized. Maybe next year.

Wandering around in a stand of young sycamores at Red Haw yesterday and looking up, it took me a while to figure out how to get even a single buttonball down --- they hang from long strands of tough fiber. Finally picked up a fallen limb, hooked a lower sycamore limb and pulled it down to eye level.

There are several sycamores in the woods at Red Haw, some giants, all recognizable by their creamy white exfoliating bark. These younger sycamores probably were planted intentionally in an area long the trail that descends south toward the southwest finger of the lake.

Distinctive sycamore leaves, not decaying quite as fast as they might in other years because of limitied snowfall, are still scattered around under the trees.

There's still plenty to see outdoors this time of year, even through the predominant color is brown. You do have to look up, down and sideways, however, as well as straight ahead.

A good number of white-tails were sharing the woods with me late yesterday afternoon, crashing through the undergrowth. I keep thinking of "Granny Got Run Over by a Reindeer," but we maintained a polite distance.

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