Goodbye Old Cottonwood

When I  went to visit Mom last month she asked me, “Did you see out back yet?”  I said no and asked her why.  “They finally cut that tree down,” she stated.

“What tree?” I asked as a feeling of dread began to bloom in my chest.

“The big one in the alley,” she replied, after which I went out the door to the backyard and all I could do was stare into the empty space of sky that was occupied by a massive cottonwood that towered over the houses at the top of the hill.

One of my favorite things about visiting Mom, along with talking with her over coffee of course, was listening the wind rustle the leaves of the cottonwood tree out back.  I would sleep with the window open in the back room so I could wake up to the sound in the morning.  If you do not have cottonwood trees in your area you may be able to find sound bits on YouTube of the wind fluttering the thick, sturdy leaves of the cottonwood tree.

Mom was relieved, along with her neighbors, to not have to clean up the leaves anymore.  Being as hardy as they are, the leaves of a cottonwood do not curl up and fall apart like other leaves in the fall.  They become flexible from moisture but do not disappear as easily as other leaves.  I understand her decision when it came to the mess, but what about the shade it provided?  Many trees still remain in her neighborhood but I did enjoy listening to the chickadees as they hopped from branch to branch overhead.  “Doesn’t the beauty and shade of the tree outweigh the fall mess?”  I thought.

Over the years, many trees have disappeared from our neighborhood.  I do not judge however, because I have no idea how it is to be a senior and having to deal with the mess.  I can be disappointed in the trees being gone, however.  I went out front to sip on my coffee on the front steps and the sun blasted my face with it’s heat.  A massive pine tree next door used to cover that area.  This pine tree was so large and full of birds that my dad called it the “Bird Hotel.”  Sparrows, finches, chickadees, robins, and doves lived there along with a few squirrels.  Our neighbors were kind enough to wait until the fledglings were gone before they had the tree removed.  The tree was gone in less than an hour.  I was furious of course – not at my neighbors but at how short of a period of time something so massive could be destroyed.

We planted three trees in our yard in the summer of 2014.  I am happy to say that they are growing quickly and we have a robin’s nest in one of them.  We are able to enjoy the scent and beauty of the blooms every spring and the birds enjoy perching in them.  With the summers becoming increasingly hotter I wanted to grow some shade for our home and provide a place for my feathered friends.

 

I don’t think we can ever plant too many trees.  They are beautiful to look at and give us a place to sit under on sunny days.  I am not a treehugger but I am thankful for God’s creation and the comfort and joy it provides man and bird alike.

The Promise of Autumn

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Fall is my favorite time of the year.  My oldest son loves summer because he hurts less when he is warm.  My husband loves warmer weather so he can take his sports car or motorcycle out.  When I was young I enjoyed summer because I didn’t have to go to school, I could go swimming and stay up late.  

As I became older, I started to notice things about autumn that I enjoyed.  I noticed how the sun would shine into the room at a slant and how the sky seemed bluer.  When the sun rises, the leaves look like gold as they flutter in the morning breeze.  The sound of leaves rolling down the sidewalk or rustling in the trees gives me a sense of peace.  I know they will soon fall and the trees will once again be naked, so I enjoy them while they hang on.  

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I started to compose a poem in my head while I was helping my son earlier:

Leaves blowing in the autumn breeze

as the curtains gently dance.

Sunshine in my kitchen

gives life to figurines on the sill.

The peace mimics a trance

and my soul feels at ease.

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Soon, the typical Montana winter will arrive.  Until then, I will keep the windows open when I can and enjoy the beautiful colors.  The leaves turn beautiful to reassure us that they will be back in the spring.  The starlings gather and dance in the sky to entertain us before they return next year.  I have even heard some house finches squeezing in a little more singing and a sparrow courting a female one last time.  I will keep feeding them all winter as I look forward to new life in the spring.