|One of Reno County's largest cottonwood trees. Can you see Randy?|
|Cottonwood at my childhood home, Pratt County|
My sisters and I used both the cotton and the green unopened pods to decorate mud pies.
In this photo dated April 1963, I was 5, Lisa was 4 and Darci was 18 months. I have fond memories of adding just the right amount of water to dirt and then pouring it into pie tins and buckets. The fluffy white cotton and the green pods were the decorative touch. It was all about presentation, even back before knowing anything about garnishing via the Food Network chefs.
But, sadly, that old cottonwood succumbed to old age, and it no longer stands sentinel at my parents' home.
On Sunday, July 8, CBS Sunday Morning featured a story on Witness Trees. These trees "witnessed" the battle at Gettysburg. Across 6,000 acres of Gettysburg National Military Park, rangers have documented at least a dozen "witness trees" that were alive during the battle - living links that help tell the story of the battle, according to park rangers.
Cottonwoods live from 60 to 200 years. A few of them that still survive today likely co-existed with the bison herds that roamed the Great Plains long ago. (Great Plains Nature Center, 2006).
Cottonwoods help tell my story, too, and they have "witnessed" important passages in my life.
However, it, too, is struggling to survive these days, with some branches never greening up this spring.
"It's a darn big tree," Jim Smith, former director at Dillon Nature Center in Hutchinson, said in an article in The Hutchinson News. I'm glad he did the measuring because we didn't come prepared, even to measure the trunk and certainly not to scale its height. It measures more than 28 feet around, 96 feet tall and has a spread of about 110 feet.
|4th Street cottonwoods, September 2015|
When the Kansas Legislature chose the cottonwood (Populus deltoides) as the state tree in 1937, the proclamation read:
"Whereas, if the full truth were known, it might honestly be said that the successful growth of the cottonwood grove on the homestead was often the determining factor in the decision of the homesteader to 'stick it out until he could prove up on his claim'; and Whereas, The cottonwood tree can rightfully be called 'the pioneer tree of Kansas.' "
|4th Street cottonwoods in winter|
Their attire changes with the seasons - whether clothed in green for summer or in yellow finery for fall or stark and drab in winter's solemnity.
|The Palmer Pasture cottonwood in better times.|
our secret garden of iris each May along the Zenith Road and the glimmer of the shiny leaves at golden hour make it even more picturesque.
Long may these witness trees live!