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Juneberry Surrogates

Tall, taller than we knowbur oaks to be out West, wherethey’re scrub-like orbigger and low-branching, butnever sixty, eighty,a hundred feet tall!No wonder I never looked up.
But why should I?Early April is early spring andgreening bursting buds aretoo far away, too high.Instead I walked through muted shadeand close straight trunks—gray, brown, black, cracked, furrowed.
Then just fifty feet ahead at exactly eye-height,spots of brilliant white flashed, and I sawclouds of flitting white moths ...two wild plums, stillbare of leaves,blooming.

Last week I drove 500 miles east to where more precipitation lets trees grow tall. The “real world” and all that’s “important” soon faded. Six days were more than enough to repair my frame of mind and far from enough to make me homesick, but of course I came back anyway. We never learn.
In the draws were respectable hardwood trees, quite unlike our undersized versions. On the ground I found leaves of bur oak—I had no idea they grew so tall!—and American elm, and occasionally black walnuts split in two (Quercus macrocarpa, Ulmus americana, Juglans nigra). I may have passed basswood unawares (Tilia americana).
Wild plum (Prunus americana) is an old friend, from lower-elevations in eastern Wyoming. I see it has similar habits 500 miles east—growing most commonly in thickets but also as small understory trees, and blooming before leafing out. The flowers are said to be ill-scented; apparently I’ve not been close enough to notice. Ripe plums are sour but always a treat to find, as they’re often destroyed by our early frosts. I suppose the eastern ones are more plentiful.Flowers are about one inch across.

This is tree-following week, when The Squirrel Basket kindly hosts a virtual gathering and we share news (check it out). But here in southeast Wyoming we had three March blizzards and then I left, so I’ve not been back to visit my juneberry. The trees I so enjoyed last week are surrogates. | Impressum