An old friend

This is how I see pussy willows around here in the springtime, 
sold in bunches at flower shops and corner groceries.
I usually buy a bundle to keep at home.

This week, we took a walk in the Tibbetts Wetlands in the Bronx. I was busy looking at the birds - so many birds! -  when I spotted this small clump:

"What are you guys doing here?" I said. I haven't seen pussy willows growing in nature in years - and my kids have never seen the plant other than as a decoration.

I suppose the pussy willows don't look like much in this picture - just a few twigs on a scrawny bush and with the catkins gone to seed, looking disheveled and green instead of cute and gray. But seeing these twigs was, to me,  like seeing an old friend unexpectedly.

On walks with my parents when I was a kid, my mom and I cut pussy willows in the early spring to bring home. I couldn't cut from this bunch in the park and I wasn't tempted. I was happy to see them growing in the wild.

I pretended for a moment that I didn't hear the car and train traffic on Broadway or the airplanes overhead. I focused on the noise of the birds instead. I didn't stop to sketch, but just noticed what I could (and took a few photos) and walked on.

Photo: Van Cortlandt House Museum. The house was once part of a plantation on this land. Now the land is a big city park...with a few small pussy willows growing near the water.

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