Once, many years ago, a large number of cottonwood trees were planted in Canberra. They are lovely trees, members of the poplar family if I'm correct but can be pests because they spread so easily, so only female trees were planted. The thing is, female trees produce this light fluffy (cotton like, hence the name) seed. When it isn't fertilised, it is extremely light and blows around in the wind, in massive quantities. For weeks every year, large parts of inner Canberra are covered with white fluff from the cottonwoods.
For students, the cottonwoods hold special significance as the general consensus is that if you haven't started studying for final exams when the fluff starts flying you are in deep ****. As a result, the sight of that first piece of fluff in the air causes nerves and apprehension for students.
For those whose student days are past them however, the sight of fluff reminds one that while some of the freedom of those times might be gone, so too is exam stress. Every year as I pass through drifts of white I feel a deep sense of relief that I no longer have that pressure on me.
Today, I glanced out the window and against the blue I spotted a small white object. Seconds later I noticed another, then another. That is right, today is the day the fluff has started to fly. Within days there will be great drifts of it caught in the grass or swept on any breeze into our building, but even those first few pieces are enough to make me revel in the joy of not having to do exams!