In the wake of the northern spring, the world comes to life in different stages. Some trees burst with flowers long ago and are now in the decaying stages that lead to seed. Others are in the peak of their bloom. And some are still seemingly dead.
As you pass near lifeless-looking trees, a surprising smell may penetrate your nose: the scent of vanilla, resin and honey. Although it's all-around cuddly and cozy, there is also something sharp and green about it, that pierces through the nostrils like blades of grass. To the uninitiated, this smell, coming out of nowhere, is a complete mystery. To those in the know, this heavenly scent is a comforting, familiar reminder of the resurrection of black cottonwood buds, which will soon be covered with handsome, shiny green leaves, and will continue to manage this sweet scent for the months of summer.
Each bud is reddish brown, reminiscent of an insect, and green on the inside, drenched in sticky, drippy reddish-orange resin that is reminds me of propolis and pollen simultaneously. Herbalists prepare an infusion of these buds that has healing properties for muscle pains and skin ailments. I like it just for the scent, so I tincture them in alcohol (you can find this note in Komorebi).