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Almond Blossom Festival: A sweet time of the year

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POSTED February 21, 2013 1:08 a.m.

It is bud time - and we don’t mean “bud” as in Budweiser beer.

A journey through the countryside between Ripon and Manteca as well as east toward Escalon finds a splattering of almond trees starting to set buds.

A couple days of warm weather and it won’t be long until the intoxicating smell of almonds in bloom starts filling the air around Ripon, Manteca and Escalon.

The scent is the sweetest perform nature offers in February. It helps snap you out of your winter doldrums. It is a sure signal that spring is arriving to push away dreary skies and chilly weather.

If you are new to the South County or have been here 20 years and simply haven’t ventured out into the countryside this time of year, do yourself a favor this weekend and take a drive in the country.

It doesn’t matter where: Louise Avenue east of Manteca, Jack Tone Road, North Ripon Road, Murphy Road, West Ripon Road, and countless others roads too numerous to mention.

This week the scent will be weak and the trees won’t be inundated with white and pink blossoms. But it is still a pleasure to see the almond trees awaken from their winter slumber while stark branches help frame the skies and bright green grass graces the ground.

Drive with your windows down to catch a slight whiff of almond perfume in the air.

Then make sure you’re back out the following weekend. The orchards should be bursting in pink and white blooms. It’s an amazing transformation. You won’t be able to ignore the wonderful scent either. It will be so strong that on some evenings all you have to do is step out your front door to awaken your senses even if you’re miles from the nearest almond orchard.

And then the first weekend in March - unless Mother Nature messes things up - the blossoms will start gently falling to the ground to create a magical snow-like covering as the pleasing aroma starts to subside and the mercury starts inching upwards.

It is little wonder Ripon picked the last weekend of February for its annual Almond Blossom Festival.

It’s a sweet time of the year.

And for countless thousands of South County residents the festival - and the orchard crop it salutes - is the perfect way to mark the return of sunny days.

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