The maple trees in our neighborhood have started dropping their dry, but still green leaves. Where Fall brings leaves ready to go back to the earth, these seem like casualties of a very long, hot, dry summer. It makes me worried for our urban ecosystem.
Yesterday I was walking around my neighborhood and I noticed these sprouts coming out of the soil. I immediately turned to my partner and said, “Oh look, Maple Tree sprouts! You can tell because they look just like the seeds–the helicopter shaped ones you see in the fall.” But interestingly, I had never actually realized that they looked that way until I said it out loud in that moment. It reminded me that teaching others is often the best way to learn something yourself. I had know what these sprouts were, but never made the connection to how they looked until I was trying to describe it to someone else and, voila! I put the pieces together and learned something new and important about a plant that I thought I already knew quite well.