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Buds on cottonwood tree against blue sky.
Spring in Alaska. Photo by Tamara Holman.

Buds and the Golden Shovel

after Nora Marks Dauenhauer

Warm April hike, all
forest beings’ breath bated. First sign of
spring’s annual creation
anticipated. The earth is
soft, snow melts. Cottonwoods’ puckering
trunks, topped with
speckled branches. Tiny buds
poised. Soon to be exploding
with life! Air filled with their
spice. Balsam perfumes
on warm breezes, intoxicating,
invigorating, renewing, all
urging past winter’s darkness. Who
among the forest doesn’t savor
winter’s slow fade? This
magical time is heralded by aroma
collectively exhaled, hinting of
the rebirth of spring.

Originally published in Spring 2019 Alaska Women Speak.