Friday, May 21, 2010

Spring Snowstorm

The skies in recent days have been overcast. It's been rain, not snow, that's fallen here on the County Line.

But as I walked earlier in the week, I did feel like I was caught in a spring snowstorm of sorts. Little wisps from a cottonwood tree south of the house floated on the breeze and carried me back to my childhood.

We had a big old cottonwood tree in our front yard. Every spring, the cotton from the tree covered the ground surrounding that tree. And my sisters and I used both the cotton and the green unopened pods to decorate mud pies.

I'm not sure whether we were actually making mud pies in this photo, but we sure could have been. The photo was dated April 1963, so the cotton could have been flying. I was 5, Lisa was 4 and Darci was 1 1/2.

I have fond memories of adding just the right amount of water to dirt and then pouring it into pie tins. The fluffy white cotton and the green pods were just the right finishing touch. It was all about presentation, even back before knowing anything about garnishing via the Food Network chefs.

The cottonwood tree still stands at my childhood home, where it has sunk deep roots into the Kansas soil for the past 66 years or so.

(Dad - Age 10)

My dad was born at that Pratt County farmstead. When he was about 10, he helped his mom plant six or eight cottonwood trees. They went to the Rattlesnake Creek somewhere south of Dillwyn and picked out some trees growing volunteer along the creek banks.

My grandma was a young widow, and the trees were free. A few of the trees didn't survive the transplanting. Others were removed when my folks built the new house. (It's kind of ironic that we still call it the new house when we moved in when I was 6!)

The surviving cottonwood tree has been one of the first things visitors see as they approach the farmstead and one of the last things you see silhouetted by a sunset sky at night.

So it's no wonder that the cotton floating in the air on the County Line made me just a little nostalgic.

I tried to capture the ephemeral wisps floating through the air. No such luck. But I did think they mimicked the fluffy white clouds in the springtime sky.

While there wasn't enough for "drifts" along our road, it did provide a border of white on the dirt road.

And just like the real snow I'd photographed this winter, the "flakes" of cotton decorated tree branches below.

If you remember your Kansas trivia, you'll recall that the cottonwood is our state tree.

When people plant cottonwoods these days, I know they more commonly use the cottonless variety. I suppose it's less of a mess for those doing yard work in people's carefully manicured yards (not that I would know about THAT!)

But I say that's too bad for all the little girls who could use the white fluffiness for mud pies!


  1. This is great, so true - unfortunately these days when the cotton flys it means allergies for me, but I still love this time of year!! Thank You for sharing! Debbie M

  2. aww This reminds me of growing up in Texas where the cotton was ridiculous. And we used it in our mudpies too!!!