Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26: Shadbush

As I was driving away from my office today on an errand, I stopped the car in wonder at a beautiful flowering tree that I had somehow completely overlooked in front of the building. Granted, the tree is not outside my windows. And most of the flower-bearing branches are well above my line of sight. But still, you'd think I'd have noticed a 30-foot-high tree laden with sweet, white blossoms! The sun shining on it made all the white petals glow. The tree stood there like a revelation, an amazing artifact of spring. How could I have missed it all the years I've been working at the Land Trust? What's even worse is that I walked under that very tree earlier in the day without even noticing all those flowers over my head.

Something about seeing a leafless branch that has burst into blossom always gets me. It's as if the spring air had tugged them out of the wood, a small miracle. I think this particular miracle is a shadbush, though the shadbush trees I'm used to seeing in the woods are usually much smaller. The flowers look right, however, and "Forest Trees of Maine" says that shadbush (or serviceberry) can grow to 40 feet.

The shadbush blooms when shad are running. Shad are anadromous fish similar to alewives, so whenever I see the shadbush in bloom I know alewives will be running soon through Great Salt Bay and up the fish ladder in Damariscotta Mills. If a flowering tree is a small miracle, the alewife run is a big one. So this glorious tree is just the beginning...

Pulled from wood by sun,
shadbush blossoms remind me
of spring's miracles.

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