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The sweet scent of almond blossoms

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POSTED February 25, 2017 1:07 a.m.

The days of the stench from sugar pulp recycled through cattle in the Moffat Feed Lot are gone.
But there are still those from the Bay Area who pass through here several times a year and laughingly call us “Manstinka.”
Let them laugh at us.
Step outside and you’ll see why the laugh is on those who look down on anything located east of the Altamont Pass.
Breathe deeply. Isn’t the sweet scent of almond blooms intoxicating?
You can’t find anything that comes close to it in the concrete jungles of the Bay Area. It absolutely blankets Manteca-Ripon-Escalon in nature’s sweetness like so much invisible fog.
Then there is the added bonus of the visual show of white and pink speckled tree branches followed by what appears like a dainty snowfall blanketing the grounds of tens of thousands of acres of orchards.
And the great thing about it all is the almond blossoms are just the start of nature’s show. Throughout the rest of late winter, spring, summer and into fall the Northern San Joaquin valley offers an abundance of sweet smells produced by nature as well as visual delights.
The sweetness of the approach of spring is just a memory for many old-timers in the Bay Area. It wasn’t that long ago that March meant the almost overpowering smell of sweet citrus filled the air of the Santa Clara Valley.
In life you’ve got to take the bad with the good. And the good in the Northern San Joaquin Valley far outweighs the bad when it comes to smells.
With a little luck, gentle warm days will follow the rains as they subside. Wind is not good for the delicate blossoms. Besides, the gentler the days, the more intoxicating the nights are with the scent of almond blossoms.
It’s tough to beat having the windows open at night this time of year  while a gentle breeze carries the tantalizingly sweet and potent elixir as you slip into a sweet slumber.
It’s nature’s ultimate love potion.
What better way to shake the fog-induced valley blues?
The sweetness of spring will soon come out of hiding in nature’s woody jewel boxes. You will be able to smell it in the damp silage piles at dairies.
It is reflected already in a handful of ornamental shrubs and trees starting to produce a growing cascade of red, pink and white blossoms. You can see it in the elegant camellias here and there with perfect blooms starting to form against waxy leaves.
Trying to describe the sweetness of this time of year to someone who hasn’t experienced it is difficult. No words exist that are strong enough to describe the embracing of the senses — vision, smell and even touch.
Blooms burst forth in mass turning the countryside into a gorgeous portrait of pink and white above intense light green grass.
The dampness of winter is fleeing. The cold is starting to disappear. The gloom and doom of tule fog is in its final days
The buzz of the bees will soon be audible almost everywhere you turn.
But nothing will be more overwhelming than the scent of nirvana in the form of almond blossoms. It overtakes you on every breath 24/7 for days. If it is a real gentle landing into spring, it will last for a week if you’re lucky.
The dance of the almond blossoms is the first act in a non-stop show that continues virtually unabated until December in the Northern San Joaquin Valley when Mother Nature slips not into a deep sleep as she does in the Midwest, South, East and Pacific Northwest but into a gentle slumber.
And what better way to come out of that slumber than to answer the call of the grand lady of the earth’s siren call in all of its white and pink glory.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.

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