Another Whiff

Rode my bike from Thorp to Taneum Creek this afternoon and got another first whiff–this time cottonwood. The buds are filled with a sticky aromatic gum. As the leaves begin to unfold in the warmer days, a sweet honey scent is released. It’s heavenly.

Like willows, cottonwoods bear female and male flowers on separate trees. The tree I photographed is female. The branches were loaded with pendulous reddish flowers like long bunches of grapes. When these go to seed in early summer, the air will be filled with the white fluff that gives the tree its name. A lot of seeds are produced, but I rarely see many baby cottonwoods. I guess the seeds have to fall in exactly the right place to germinate. They favor floodplains and riparian areas. Cottonwoods don’t mind wet feet.

Also today: blackbilled magpies, redtailed hawks, song sparrows belting out their signature melody. New calves in pastures. Headwind from the southwest. Clouds bring yet more rain as La Nina malingers.