I’ve been anticipating this day for the last four weeks. The almond blossoms have bloomed in Kern County, California. I’ve seen pictures on Facebook and Instagram of massive clouds of white and pink flowers engulfing acres of almond trees, and I just had to see it up close. So at 7 on Saturday morning, I hit the road.
I first heard of the almond bloom from the owners of Volkoff Family Farms, so I visited their orchard in January. It was my first time seeing almond trees and meeting such young farm owners (they’re in their mid-30s). The buds were present and I could tell the flowers were ready to burst.
It was Almonds 101 for me during my initial visit. I was definitely the student, the Volkoffs the teachers. The highlight was learning that an almond is technically not a nut. It’s the seed of the almond fruit (otherwise known as a drupe). Referring to an almond as a nut is a culinary description rather than a true botanical definition. You know how many times I’ve used that factoid in conversation since? It’s a good conversation starter if you’re lost for something to say.
The Volkoffs told me I visited at a spectacular time of the year, and they encouraged me to return in a few weeks to see the blossoms. They’re a highlight for almond growers because they signal the start of pollination, which is necessary for crop production (thank the bees).
Fast forward a month and I’m back at their orchard. I step onto the grounds and I’m immediately transported to the wonderland I’d heard about and seen online. Bright white and pink flowers all around me. The scent is sweet but not candy-like — more of a subtle hint of sugar. I look up, across and over the orchard. Flowers everywhere.
The ambiance is whimsical. And I normally don’t do whimsical.
For just a moment, all is still. Just perfect. Petals begin to fall slowly to the ground. It will soon look as if it’s snowed.
I depart, eager to return. I want to see what’s next: the arrival and growth of the almonds.