Cottonwood Bud Harvest Time
It is January and the herb garden is sleeping under a thick blanket of snow. The days are cold, the bears are sleeping and the world is peaceful. Nothing to harvest then, at this time of year. But wait, my walk takes me along a snowy trail beside a wetland area near the creek where the Cottonwood trees grow tall and grand. And as any neighbour of a Cottonwood tree knows - they shed their branches in the stormy winter winds and snow. And on those branches….. yes... Cottonwood Buds, resinous and shiny. As the Spring arrives and the buds start to open it is the Cottonwood Buds that fill the air with their sweet balsamic honey perfume. This is the smell of Spring in my world, the smell of hope, new life and joy. But now, the Cottonwood branches that lie beside the path are laden with tight closed buds. The cold snowy weather keeps the resin hard and shiny, not yet softened by warmth. The leaf buds are perfect and rich in resin. So now is the time to get out there and harvest those buds from branches that have been thrown from the tree. Now, while the resin is hard in the cold weather. If you wait till the temperatures rise the resin will warm and soften and the job of harvesting becomes a very sticky affair with hands clothes and hair covered in the sweet smelling eternally sticky gum. But now.... NOW you can harvest with a minimum of stickiness. And the resin that you do get on your fingers is just a sweet smelling hint of the Spring to come.