There is a sweetness in the air in the morning that is not from any exotic bloom, although the scent could rival any lily or rose, but comes from the sticky resin that coats the buds of some species of poplar. Our local poplars are called cottonwoods, named for the fluff attached to their seeds that float through the air like a flurry of snowflakes. The scent is best at dawn, when the air is cool and laden with dew. Why Mother Nature thought it necessary to endow the buds, and even the fresh young leaves, with such a heavenly scent is a mystery. For me, along with the arrival of the swallows, it means that spring is really here, regardless of the weather.
The weather has been miserable - cold, wet and windy. It did not prevent me from taking my yearly pilgrimage to Table Mountain in Butte County. There are many 'Table Mountains' in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada of California. They are old lava flows, with the surrounding land eroded over the millennia, leaving flat topped buttes standing high from the surrounding hills. For a week I hiked the mountain, in spite of rain and wind. When I lived in the local town of Oroville I hiked the mountain almost daily during the rainy season, and loved it in all its moods. I have been there in storms, in dense fog when it seems mysterious and magical, and in dazzling sunshine. It is now a wildflower preserve, made so for the yellow clover (seen here) that is found only on the north Table Mountain, but it is a dense carpet of annuals this time of year, and a smattering of bulbs. More bulbs will come later and will close the wildflower season on Table Mountain. Pictures are better than words, so here are a few more.
There are many waterfalls on Table Mountain, for although it appears flat it is cut with many ravines that hold waterfalls hidden from view until you are almost there. Needless to say, it is dog heaven.
Now we are back to our workaday life, my thoughts keep wandering back to that heavenly place. In another month the rains will cease and the wildflowers and streams will completely dry up. But next year, with the autumn rains, the cycle will begin again, and we will be back.