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Pussy Willow Magic

April 10, 2013

ImageSunshine, wind, fresh New England air, blue sky and outdoor exercise are like medicine to me. I am a cancer previvor.

This week I headed to a town orchard to hike. I came upon more deep mud than ever so I tried to bypass the worst. Sinking into the mud would mean wet feet and filthy boots. And there was the risk of my two dogs running over and into it.  Golden Retrievers coated with mud is not fun. Detouring around the mud brought magic. There was ice glimmering on tree. As I stared, the sun came out and shot through the droplets causing a yellow-white halo and as the sun split the light into shooting prisms of color through the mist.

The droplets were hanging on what looked like buds, not just branches. I yelled to my dogs, “You have to be kidding me… Those are young pussy willow trees.” I had never seen pussy willows in this part of the orchard.

I detoured off my route and climbed through prickers and brush to see the pussy willows. How could I have missed these over the years?  Could the apple orchard have been heavily pruned this past year so that I happened upon this magic just now? Did a life scare bring new eyes and new appreciation?

Each year I knew that there was one swampy corner about 20 minutes further than this where I could find pussy willows if I came during the right few weeks of the spring. But year after year I was never ready for that “aha” moment when the pussy willows came into view.

But my faithful corner of swamp willows is aging and they produce fewer catkins each year.  The catkins are so high in the wild trees that I can no longer cut a few to take home to bring spring into the house. The window of time for finding pussy willows in their most beautiful display is so short. So many spring changes are easy to miss in New England.

My pussy willow discovery gives me hope. The circle of life has brought young trees to the orchard as the old ones are losing their vitality.

When we get past the gray month of March and move into pussy willow, forsythia and daffodil season I finally begin to feel that I can hang up my snowshoes. Even though there will be dirt on my kitchen floor and dogs that need rinsing, the reappearance of colors and life make it worth it.

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3 Comments
  1. Yes. But remember they are near swampy areas and also need the sun. That is one reason they are such a treasure. They are hard to find.

  2. I’m going to have to venture into the woods to see if I can discover some pussy willow.

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