in minnesota one of your jobs growing up is learning to identify conifers. some of our best trees are “pine trees” although most of them aren’t really pines, they’re firs. you learn to distinguish the flat needles of the balsam from the round bottle brush tips of the spruce. you learn that the white pine has five needles per bunch and the red pine has two. you learn that white cedar has a strange spicy cherry smell when you run your hand over it in winter. and you learn to love the tamarack, not only for its spectacular golden fall phase before it (unlike any other minnesota conifers) drops its needles. but you learn to love it for the comically large round buds it carries all winter long on its needle-less branches. it gives an impression of friendliness. it isn’t trying to blend in. it’s an extravert. like the lovable guy at the party in the loud blazer. hey, nice to meet you. i’m bob. what are you doing in these parts?
tamarack pine cones
st. paul, minnesota