For several weeks now, cottonwoods have been running through my
mind's back roads...seeing those that Colorado has offered up to Bob
and Monica reminded me of portions of an essay on November (A Sand
County Almanac, Aldo Leopold, Paragraph 16) where my favorite
conservationist was listing some of his favorite trees.
He opined that "To me the ancient cottonwood is the greatest of
trees because in his youth he shaded the buffalo and wore a halo of
pigeons, and I like a young cottonwood because he may someday become
ancient. But the farmer's wife (and hence the farmer) despises all
cottonwoods because in June the female tree clogs the screens with
cotton. The modern dogma is comfort at any cost."
While it is July, and my posting just misses the month the
farmer's wife came to dislike, we here in Alaska are in the middle
of our cottonwoods summer fling. Her flowers are resplendent and
pendulous in their fullness, dispersing the lightest of downy seed.
I can think of no better way to characterize wind currents than
with individual cottonseeds, as they take the longest time to touch
down to mother earth. They waft with each subtle wind current,
drifting and dodging, travelling much of the time far away from the
tree that bore it.
When they do land, they of course will not stay put, just as
subject to ground level breezes as those treeborne. It is only
against edges of lawns and flowerbeds that they now accumulate, and
after the first windy day, they accumulate as if they were an
unseasonable skiff of snow, still captured in 'drifts' this Fourth
And of course, in our screens...