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The Cottonwood Tree of the West

Cottonwoods are often maligned where I live, but it is one of my favorite trees. My neighbors curse the cotton. The male trees are at fault. When the cotton blows, I recall reading the Native American women in some tribes gathered the cotton to use as stuffing for the dolls of little girls. The front of my yard is lined with cottonwoods. I must have mostly female trees since I have very little cotton.

One of my favorite books as a child was about a cottonwood tree from sapling to death with the title Tree in the Trail. I've never forgotten the book filled with stories told of the people from Native Americans to pioneers who stopped under the tree for shade, to camp, and eventually use the wood of the tree after it died for repairs to wagons. On a backpacking trip in the Grand Gulch, I added my own story as I rested on an ancient downed cottonwood and wondered if, perhaps some Freemont woman had enjoyed the shade on a hot day and when it died sat where I sat hundreds of years ago.

My cottonwoods are changing color with the arrival of fall to brilliant yellows. The leaves are rattling, humming, sighing, and falling as a reminder, the seasons are changing - the beautiful tree of the west.





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