Tahoe Nugget #79:
Perplexing Pollen Patterns
May 29, 2006
The Tahoe Basin suffered a bump on the road to spring this Memorial Day weekend. Cold and breezy conditions as well as 2 to 3 inches of snowfall put a damper on this traditionally popular weekend for camping,
boating, biking and the start of the summer tourist season. The thermometer in Truckee fell to 25 degrees setting a new low temperature for the date, while the 20 degree reading at Squaw Valley was the lowest
temperature in the lower 48 states. The fresh snow and cold weather made for good skiing conditions at Squaw Valley during this last ski weekend of the year.
Despite the brief cold snap, signs of spring are
everywhere. Every May and June, the thick stands of pine trees that surround Lake Tahoe let pine cones fall and release countless pollen particles into the air. The pine cones come in all sizes, but the Sugar Pine
cone which can reach nearly 2 feet long, is the largest in the world. The pine cones are the female fruits of coniferous trees, which in Tahoe includes pines, firs, cedars, junipers and hemlocks. In spring, tiny
male cones produce clouds of yellow pollen that is blown by the wind. The fine green dust coats our cars, roofs and patio furniture. Sometimes the pollen falls thick enough to form intriguing patterns on the surface
of the lake until the afternoon winds agitate the surface and disperse the magic. I have about 30 photographs of pollen patterns, but here are just a few examples.
Photo #1: Pollen ponding near the harbor in
Photo #2: Elliptical rings of pollen.
Photo #3: Depending on your perception, either a honker flying left or a frog chasing a fly right
Photo #4: Pollen tornado
Photo #5: Another
Rorschach test. A swan or a buxom woman wearing a large sun hat?