Perhaps you have noticed that even
in the very lightest breeze,
you can hear the voice of the cottonwood tree.
The big old cottonwood tree has had a supporting role in many a photo on the County Line.
But it will no longer stand at attention as visitors drive to the refuge or as we make trips to the pasture. Look closely at the photo below and you'll see Randy in the center.
|You can see how massive it is. Randy is in the lower right of this photo, hidden among the leaves.|
Mighty cottonwoods form a canopy down many a country road in rural Kansas. Early Kansas settlers found the native trees as they arrived from the eastern U.S. When the Kansas Legislature chose the cottonwood (Populus deltoides) are 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.' "They are like the old family patriarch - tall, stately, but maybe a little rough around the edges after years of standing through the changing seasons. Just like the road to the Palmer pasture, many a country road is lined with these big old trees, which seem to wave a friendly greeting in the Kansas breeze. On early morning or late evening trips to check cattle, the cottonwood's leaves rustle and birds serenade from their branches. 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.
In 2011, the Kansas Cattle Drive herded longhorns down the road and past the cottonwood as they traveled to Quivira for an overnight stay.
Goodbye, old friend. It's been good to know you.