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The Hickory Tree

September 19, 2017

Commonly referred to as “shag bark trees”, there is no denying that the Hickory Tree looks very different from our beloved maples, but I would argue that they are equally fascinating.

Shag Bark

Just like maple trees, the hickory can be used to make a delicious syrup. However – unlike maple syrup – hickory syrup is made by boiling hickory bark. No sap required!

That being said, these trees have a special place in my heart for a completely different reason than the syrup. I love Hickory Nut Season. For me, it’s a season of meditation. It is reminder to decompress and reconnect. To step back from computers and cell phones – even if only for 10 minutes – and soak up all the delightful things that autumn is ushering in.

Hickory Nut in a Husk

Jim and I stroll down deer-trodden trails on our land in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The woods is a canvas of gorgeous greens, golds, reds and oranges as the leaves are beginning to change color. I feel refreshed by each breath of brisk, autumn air. We pause beneath each hickory tree and scan the forest floor for the distinctive green hickory nut husks. Each time I find one, it is like receiving a gift. I peel back the wedged husk to reveal the heart. A beautiful, smooth, white hickory nut.

hand full of hickory nuts
Chipmunk Cheeks
Our pockets bulge with hickory nuts like the cheeks of a chipmunk.

By the time we return home, our pockets are bulging with hickory nuts as if they were the cheeks of a chipmunk. There is a playful competition to see who can fill their pockets with the most hickory nuts. Also, who can find the biggest hickory nut? And the smallest?

I have heard speakers at sugar bush management seminars instruct to remove nut trees from the sugar bush in order to deter squirrels. Granted, nobody likes it when a squirrel nibbles a hole in their tubing system or sap saks. However, I personally would be pretty devastated if anything happened to our hickories. They bring me so much joy this time of year. I am so thankful to have them in our sugar bush. Our hickories are here to stay.

Fruit of the Hickory

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