Putting the “Big” in Big Leaf Maple

October 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

October 25, 2010


After the first big storm of the fall blew through Saturday night, I arrived home from a camping trip to find a wealth of leaves down all around our place.  The dogs and I wandered around a bit before “decamping” our weekend trip from the car looking for my new favorite fallen leaf.  This always ends up being the most gargantuan Big Leaf Maple leaf in the yard.

A big storm provides a lot of downed leaves for me to choose from:  Black Cottonwood, Red Alder, sprigs of needled Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, and twigs of Western Red Cedar.  But a maple leaf will be my favorite.  The biggest Big Leaf Maple leaf I can find.

I understand the advantages of large leaves to a maple tree – more surface area on which to collect sunlight for photosynthesis, a competitive edge in a crowded, mixed conifer-deciduous forest.  I don’t really understand, though, why big Big Leaf Maple leaves hold such fascination for me.  I’m not one to go out of my way to see “The World’s Largest Ball of Tin Foil,” for example.

I do notice that my brain automatically begins to run through possible uses for such a large leaf when I spy one:  decoupage it into an autumn placemat or wall decoration (I’ve actually done this); put it with others as decoration around a door.  But I also wonder if my crafty ideas aren’t modern permutations of my genetic inner primate thoughts for possible big leaf uses:  leaf umbrella good; sleep leaf nest roof; leaf nice hat. 

The scale, I think, is actually the true attraction of the Big Leaf Maple leaves for me – the proportions of my hand to the leaf, my height to that of the tree, my tiny presence here amid all the natural beauty of this region, this planet.  One big Big Leaf Maple leaf can refresh my perspective on my life’s difficulties and dilemmas.  Junior thinks so, too.054

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