Sunday, August 10, 2008

#4 Cottonwood Tree

This cottonwood tree is in the backyard of our neighbors John and Linda. They live across the cul-de-sac, and the ragweed from #3 is just outside the corner of their back yard.

Two years ago a roving tree-trimming guy kinda butchered their tree and they were afraid it might die, but it's coming back.

When I was little I lived on a road southeast of EspaƱola, called Lower San Pedro. It paralleled the Rio Grande. There had been at one time (1910 or so) cottonwoods planted all along that road, and when I was little there were still several fat and healthy ones (much larger than the one pictured above). Because they grew out toward the road, though, it caused a road that had once been pretty straight to be a little curvy and bumpy. Especially on bicycles we could notice how the road was a little higher where the cottonwood roots were, and we had to go around where they were in the road. That was the 1960's. Some of them had died by then, more are dead now.

When I was thirteen or so, lightning struck one on the land of the neighbor behind us and broke off about 1/3 of it. Even though it had been raining and the tree was alive, down in where it struck, it burned the tree, and it smouldered for a while, and was scarred from that burn for years.

When the seeds come out of the cottonwood trees, it would seem like it was snowing. They were a little heavier than what comes off a dandelion, but they'd be coming from way up high. Sometimes they would drift up against a wall or the wind would blow a swirl of them into a corner, and you could pick up a handful of them. Some people are allergic to them but I loved trying to catch the seeds in the air.

They're not really very good trees, in many ways. They're shady, but the wood isn't great to burn. It's light (not dense) and stinky. And where they grow wild along the Rio Grande (the woods along the river are called the bosque), they take up a LOT of water.

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