It’s been a beautiful week in the Laurel Highlands – 70 °F or above every day, and a fair amount of sunshine thrown in for good measure (as well as some lightning and thunder after dark last night). Our family had the grill out for the first time yesterday. Yumminess!

With all the warmth, the plants are getting really serious about sending out leaves and flowers. As part of “Project BudBurst“, Ordinary Spouse has been watching a red maple in our back yard. This week, its buds have opened up, and I decided to try to a little digiscoping.*

This is a twig that I clipped from our tree:

Red maple budI placed it on a sheet of paper which then went onto our microscope. I positioned my camera in front of the eyepiece of the microscope, and took a series of about thirty photos by carefully translating the paper. (Hey – you work with what you have!) The close-up photos looked like this:

Maple bud close-up - rawUnfortunately, the black circle is an artifact of the way I was doing things. So I cropped a square portion in the middle of each picture, and then fed all the images into Hugin, a stitching program that I’ve mentioned before. This is my final red maple bud burst image:

Red maple bud burst!I think that is pretty cool! Then again, I stayed up until 3 a.m. last night working on it.

Speaking of bud bursts, the maple syrup making has come to an abrupt end. On the day of bursting, the syrup turned bitter. Nevertheless, our experiment in sugaring was a great success. For the year, we harvested roughly 80 gallons of sap and produced about three gallons of syrup. Three taps was about right for us. Any more and we might have had trouble keeping up.

* Technically, digiscoping involves a telescope, instead of a microscope, I guess. I’ll be trying that out soon.