March: Cottonwood Buds and The Promise of Spring

“There is no other God like you, riding through the heavens to my help, in majestic glory through the sky!” Deuteronomy 33:26

Facebook has hijacked my blog for the past year. It’s just so easy to post pics in a FB album and think I’ll write about my adventures later….  So as the snow swirls with each gust in this 19 degree weather I decided to take a look back at my wild excursions for the past year.

March is windy, snowy at times here in Appalachia…but it is evident that Spring is around the corner.  The Robins have returned with their plump orange breasts and brown over coats busily making nests for their coming brood. The sap is running with freezing nights and warmer days…maple syrup is simmering on the stove.  Raking dead and rotting leaves from last years offering out of my flower beds reveals a plethora of green growing treasures hidden from view.  A few warm days show up here and there.

The buds are what captivate me at this time of year.  I’m learning to identify trees by their bark and their buds….such diversity abounds.  Cottonwood buds are specifically what has my attention in March.

On the hunt for Cottonwood buds

My herb sister, Pamela Torres, and I have a yearly tradition of searching out these sticky treasures and have had fun getting our fingers gooey in the process. Cottonwood trees like water and Miss Ruby has them growing along the river next to her house. When Miss Ruby (now 98) was a child she remembers collecting the pregnant Spring Cottonwood buds (she calls them Balm of Gilead) for her mother to make massage oil for aches and pains.

A line up of Cottonwoods along the stream bed waiting to share their sticky treasures.

We had hoped that a wind storm had blown down some branches but they were still high and tight but we found lots of babies growing at their feet.

In order to get to the Cottonwood buds a rake is helpful. The rush of the stream next to us and the warmth of the sun together with the joy of picking these resinous odoriferous buds made for yet another wild memory.

A wild woman at work

Nothing erases the stress and pressures of life than sunshine on your shoulders, a breeze ruffling your hair and the sound of a bubbling brook  joyfully tumbling nearby.

Of course I managed to get Burdock seed pods in my hair and on my sweater. Just too focused on the prize of obtaining those buds to notice till I was stuck.

The view from Miss Ruby’s house. Friendly cows saying hello.

Cottonwood buds…what an odoriferous delight…. Oooh baby!

Pamela and I went to several choice Cottonwood locations and harvested a basketful each for our herbal healing concoctions.  Back home we plopped em into olive oil and stirred them with a Cattail stalk (looks like a chopstick). I will use this to make the best lip balm ever and an incredible massage oil and perhaps a healing salve…. Feeling blessed.

Infusing goodness

More catch of the day. Willow betonica and Black Birch.

Just look at the tight rose color bud to the right of the opened Coltsfoot flower! and the Chickweed below to the left.

The juxtaposition of the old and the new.

Coltsfoot flowers are one of the first edible flowers to herald the Spring. They are called by the Indians “son before father” because these beautiful composite flowers pop up on their scaly stalks before the leaves show their leathery presence. Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, is well known as a cough remedy.

Seeing YELLOW everywhere!

I want to warn the Daffodils that Winter will hang around crimping their style but their optimism never stops them.

Cheery Daffodils blanketed in snow March 24th

Skipper in March

A blog post is not complete without a photo of my faithful shadow, Skipper..

Cottonwood buds, Black Birch wintergreen awesomeness, Willow aspirin, Sumac spiles for Maple tapping, Pine experiments, breathless over the overnight emergence of sunny Daffodils (not edible but oh so beautiful) and just herbing around with good friends…March is when nature starts bursting at it’s seams. So excited!!

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