My breath condenses into long curls as I walk the road towards the salmon colored traces that I noticed as I drove by. In the past I would refer to the winter as “The Gray World” but this year I’ve decided to make it priority to search for the Color of winter. In doing so I have discovered that our world is always in bloom. You just need to look a little closer.
I found subtle tones of red and pink as well as pale blues and greens were everywhere.
The feature image is the male catkin of an alder tree and it seems to still have some pollen. Unlike the flowers of the warmer weather the alder depends on the winter winds to carry it’s pollen instead of insects.
The female catkin of Alder tree looks like a little pinecone but has the same beautiful red tones.
The scales will develop into seeds and they are also carried away by the winds.
The Alder grows near water and has a tight grain that is used for fine woodworking although it is a little on the soft side when compared to something like maple. Still, the wood is honey colored and makes a great veneer. And if you’re a fan of Fender guitars you can thank the alder for the balanced tones.
The Alder does play a roll in soil conservation. It forms a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria and forms nodules similar to legumes. It’s sometimes called a pioneer species and while that’s debatable for various reasons it was the first tree to spring up on my property after the 2012 derachio. My forest was pretty battered by the straight line wind and so the alder became a personal symbol of renewal in my life. The one tree in particular sprouted next to my driveway and I simply allowed it grow. Unfortunately, the root system is threatening to destroy my pavement and so the tree has to go. ( don’t worry, I now have plenty of trees to enjoy)
On a final note, I am aware that the inner bark of the alder has traditionally been used by herbalist to treat various conditions. However, it’s not one of the medicinal plants that I have studied to a point where I’m comfortable going into details.
Mostly, alder serves as a a source of enjoyment and beauty in my life. It’s a little pop if color to break up the gray of winter.
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