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more trees

But first, unrelated stuff:

I was going to drop off some mail, and passed a postman sitting in his truck. "I don't suppose I could just give--" "Sure you can." And I handed it over. One fewer rush hour crossings of Mass Ave!

Coming home, I saw a Drain Doctor van outside. And now I hear mysterious chunking sounds from the bathroom ceiling. I suspect he's working in the apartment upstairs. Amusing to ID that out of a medium-large apartment complex.

A while back, I saw advice about looking at things and imagining drawing them. Even though my drawing skills are rudimentary and I haven't tried physically drawing any of the things I've looked at since, applying this advice has been useful for focusing visual attention, especially on details. Tracing outlines with my eyes, counting elements, paying attention to colors. "If I were drawing this, what would I need to know... aha."

Similarly, though I don't remember all the tree stuff I've read so far, and there's obviously far more I don't even know yet, there's already a change in how I look at them: now that I've run through a few ID keys, I have an idea of what to look for. "I have no idea what this is, but these are the things I'd want to look up." Or as today, "I'm not sure this is a honey locust, but it sure has similar pinnate leaves without a leading leaf."

And, today's haul! I think I found a ginkgo: certainly it was something with a very fan-shaped leaf, though I didn't see any top notches.

And... a day or two ago I learned that 'sycamore' seems to be a somewhat generic term for star ("stellate") or maple shaped leaves. There's a sycamore maple, which is really a maple, but there are also unrelated trees with similar leaves, like the American sycamore, distinctive for mottled exfoliating bark, and 'naked' light gray or white upper branches, and spiky spherical seeds.

So, a few feet beyond the suspected ginkgo, I notice a bunch of "maple" leaves, and then that they're hanging off of bone-white branches, and then that this tree doesn't have any of the 'helicopter' maple seeds that I've seen quite a lot of under other maple trees. Hmmmm. Found a few more like that, and then some undeniable maple trees -- helicopter seeds ahoy! -- that had more conventionally barky upper branches.

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Damien Sullivan

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