Almond blossoms Fat Uncle FarmsI felt like Helen Hunt in the movie “Twister” as I barreled up Highway 99 to Wasco, CA. Only instead of tornadoes, I was looking to catch an almond orchard in full bloom. I’d heard for years about the unusual beauty of this winter flowering, but as with a midwestern storm, a sighting–if you don’t live on an almond farm–is dependant on the vagaries of weather and on being in the right place at precisely the right time.  I was determined that this year I would make every effort to witness the fleeting miracle firsthand.

I was in constant text communication with Nate Siemens of Fat Uncle Farms in Wasco, and we determined that Friday, February 7 would be ideal. But a cold snap just before I headed north slowed the buds’ opening so that when I arrived, the orchard looked like the photo on the left, below.

Almond orchard in buds
Almond orchard in bloom

Yeah, it was pretty–swollen buds holding promise of things to come and all–but cold comfort (47 degrees Farenheit, to be precise) after all the planning. We played with the bees instead (that’s me on the left and Nate on the right in the last photo below).

What a difference a week makes. I drove right back up to Wasco and took the rest of the orchard pictures you see in this post. I love the one of the branch below that captures past and future harvests; there’s something poetically cosmic about that.

Almonds on branch

The orchard was cold and quiet in the early morning. I was completely surrounded on all sides by snowy blossoms. Petals fell like the lightest beginning of  a snow, catching in our hair and clothes and dusting the ground. About 11 a.m., the air warmed enough for the bees to “wake up” and begin their day’s work among the blossoms, changing the stillness to a pleasant hum.

You’d think I’d be content with this flower show. But here’s the thing about an obsession: it’s never enough. Now I want to chase the “late” bloom, the precise moment when both the trees and the ground are blanketed in white. Wish me luck.

Bees at Fat Uncle Farms