22 March 2011


We've had nice spring weather, and now the return of freezing cold, so this seems an appropriate time to post the photo of a "sugar-sickle,"  explained at the Naturespeak blog:
This is the time of year when broken maple twigs begin to weep. Their outflow of sap will freeze overnight and form pale sugar-sickles that catch the morning light. Because only the water content of the sap actually freezes, the sugar is naturally concentrated at the tip and the sickles make for a refreshing treat. Unfortunately, they are fleeting creations that melt with the slightest prompting by the sun. These sickles probably provided the original idea for the human processing of Maple Syrup... Sugar sickle season is maple sugaring season.
There's another photo at wykesgerald's Flickr photostream.  Those interested in this phenomenon should also read about frozen birch tree sap.  And a reminder that this leaking sugary sap provides nutrition to the earliest butterflies in our part of the country - Mourning Cloaks especially - who survive on tree sap before flowers come into bloom.

The English major in me wants to correct the word to "sugarcicle" to make it closer to "icicle," but since it's a colloquial term, I guess there's no need to put on a grammar Nazi hat.

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