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06 March, 2010


Alder, scorned upon trash-tree of the Northwest. From irritating thicket to senescence in 50 years, too full of rot to make good wood most of the time, dropping stuff constantly to the dismay and disgust of homeowners. People like the firewood, but that's about it.

There were 7 of these in the yard when I moved in, and a half dozen left now. The other warmed the house and cooked many a meal since I dismantled it nearly a year ago. The buds are red and swollen as little monkey-butts right now, ready to unfurl into something much more beautiful. Sunny and warming quickly right as I write, so we could get leafage this very day.

But standing in the still frosty yard on a clear morning like this, what silhouettes itself against the bluetiful sky are the naughty bits: great dangling catkins ready to explode pollen, cones with their mysteriously beckoning little openings. Strangely enough, most people do not find this arousing in the least, they look up and think, "I'm gonna have to rake all this crap up."

Because yes, after the party is over, the confetti falls away forgotten. The alders are generous, and throw in twigs and branches, slough some lichen and moss. There are people who will bag it up and throw it out, or put it in the green-waste bin for the city to haul away.

But you know I wouldn't do that.

Being shiftless, I've never tracked down figures on how much biomass an alder pumps out on an annual basis. But the spring brings thousands of catkins and cones, spent or wanting to hop into seed-bed, raining residue from the great spawning. Some cultures, closer to the earth by history or just by dint, would recognize this as especially good mulch--leaves can insulate and make soil eventually, but the tree's reproductive organs may bestow fertility, life force. Even if you don't believe in that, there's the biomass, maybe a trace of minerals mined by the tree's roots, worm-fodder. Soil to be.

1 comment:

  1. Hee. You may underestimate just how beautiful (or even bluetiful, in certain cases!) monkeys find *one another's* bums ...
    --Leedle Seestah