Scent of Poplars by W.H. Hudson


Automne, Peupliers, Eragny (Autumn, Poplars, Eragny)

These concert-singers, the little green and yellow field finch and the purple cow-bird, were with us all the year round, with many others which it would take a whole chapter to tell of. When, in July and August, I watched for the coming spring, it was the migrants, the birds that came annually to us from the far north, that chiefly attracted me. Before their arrival the bloom was gone from the peach trees, and the choir of countless little finches broken up and scattered all over the plain. Then the opening leaves were watched, and after the willows the first and best-loved were the poplars. During all the time they were opening, when they were still a yellowish-green in colour, the air was full of the fragrance, but not satisfied with that I would crush and rub the new small leaves in my hands and on my face to get the delicious balsamic smell in fuller measure. And of all the trees, after the peach, the poplars appeared to feel the new season with the greatest intensity, for it seemed to me that they felt the sunshine even as I did, and they expressed it in their fragrance just as the peach and other trees did in their flowers. And it was also expressed in the new sound they gave out to the wind. The change was really wonderful when the rows on rows of immensely tall trees which for months had talked and cried in that strange sibilant language, rising to shrieks when a gale was blowing, now gave out a larger volume of sound, more continuous, softer, deeper, and like the wash of the sea on a wide shore.