Perfume Of The Leaves

text and haiku by Kristen Lindquist

With hours left of sunlight and blue sky after work today, my husband and I walked into town. On the way we passed under a huge tree, its boughs hanging down all around us like an umbrella. We realized when we were under this green umbrella that the tree was flowering, the cloying but sweet perfume filling the air. It stopped us in our tracks. Dozens of bees hummed amid the leaves, tucked up in the fragrant blossoms.

The leaves and bark of the tree made me think it was some kind of aspen or cottonwood, although I couldn’t find it in any of my books. Most native aspens have a long, drooping flower like a tassel, but not our aromatic tree, which abounded with small, subtle, creamy white flowers. If we hadn’t smelled them, we probably wouldn’t have even noticed that the tree was flowering under its leafy green canopy.

Perfume of the leaves
and hum of bees draws us in–
summer seduction.

Later: After I posted this, a persevering reader sent me several options for what kind of tree this might have been. He got it in three: American Basswood. Thank you, Kirk Betts! The photo above is from Wikipedia. I particularly enjoy that it turned out to be a basswood, which is also known as a linden tree here in the United States. The origin of my surname “Lindquist” is “linden,” so I’ve always thought of lindens as a sort of family emblem–even if I can’t recognize one when I see it!