Wednesday, May 25, 2005

TREES

The cottonwood trees pictured above, were planted on this farm in the spring of 1916. The man who farmed this farm at the time, and a friend of his, had gone east about one eighth mile and pulled saplings out of the sandbars of the Missouri River. They came back and populated both this farmstead and one other by the town of Herman, with baby cottonwoods. The farm there was later known as the Ranch Spur Elevator. The trees of the Ranch spur, lined the road all the way to the highway.
By the year I was born, 1950, they had considerable girth and height. My earliest remembrances were of Dad doing work under them in the hottest of weather. When we needed to take the rubber tires off of the old Oliver 77 and put steel wheels on for 'throwing in' with the 'go-devil', Dad would always do it under the shade of the cottonwoods. It was where we did everything in hot weather.
They made a 20 mph wind sound like a storm. They stood thru a lot of world history. They were standing in 4 feet of water in the great Missouri Valley flood of 52. They bent over, almost in half in some storms with tornado inspired winds. They could lose a giant pile of limbs and not show where they had come from. They saw seven kids off into the world. And welcomed them home again, no matter how long they were away.
The one thing they couldn't take was lightning. They had all fallen prey to the big zapper. Lightning takes about 5 years to kill a big cottonwood. They seem untouched at first but then after about 3 years it's obvious the tree is dying a long, slow, death. They became dangerous and we had to remove them.
The decision to take them out did not come easily. My mind kept going over everything that had happened under the trees. The history. The sessions of catch with a baseball, the new boyfriends and girlfriend that were brought home to meet Mom and Dad. Both 'us kids' and then 'our kids'. The times I walked in the shade and shed tears to try and figure out what was going wrong at the time. The times Mom or Dad must have done the same. Dad moved the family here in 1948, so the trees had been the Overseers of my life for my first fifty three years.
Here's the point of all of this,, the day before the chainsaws fired up, I got to walking the farmstead and noticing that every plant on the west side of the big trees, was somehow effected. All of the trees were almost barren on their eastern side, and most of them were bending west in search of light. All of the smaller plants were doing the same.
Yesterday I examined the remaining trees. They've had 2 years of growth since the demise of the cottonwoods. They are obviously filling out their eastern extremities, they are going up straight now. All of the plants are doing much better. There are bigger, prettier plants and flowers everywhere. They are all flourishing.
It got me to thinking how people can have the same effect on children, and organizations. If the leadership, or parenting so overshadows everything, growth of the individual is dampened. The light is being stolen, or swallowed up by the giants and growth is stifled. I guess we should stand away from the light, give them a chance to grow and prosper. New leaders will develop.

15 comments:

Idgie @ the "Dew" said...

I hate to see big beautiful trees go down, but you're right. When they get dangerous to people, start choking out the other trees, etc., their time is done.

We have exquisite oaks round these parts and I mourn every time I see a new subdivision go in and those beauties torn down simply because it's easier.

bridgesitter said...

That was a beautiful memoir written about those trees. Yet, it's still sad to them go.

Out here there are forests everywhere, thankfully most are protected, but there are a few hills that look like they got a really bad hair cut. I mean really bad!

JUST A MOM said...

WELL, Thank you for my awakening for the day, here I was all wrapped up in my blog crash.
Very nice, the big old trees of my home is what I find myself missing the most these days.
Thank you!

Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Wonderfully penned. We lost an approximately a tree over 100 yrs old to tropical storm ravages. IT also took down two others.... so sad.

Last summer, our insurance company demanded that we remove two trees just as old. That hurt more, because it wasn't up to nature's unpredictableness.

(As you saw from my painting, I love old trees.)
YOurs had so many memories. Reminds me of my kids crying when the ones last summer were removed.

Ralph's Homespun Headlines said...

Cliff

Excellent story about the trees and a great connection between children and organizations. This is an excellent, excellent story.
Ralph

Kim said...

That was a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing both the story and the pictures...

Jamie Dawn said...

Very touching tribute to those trees. It's funny how trees, or land, or a river, or any special place can mean so much to us. To everything there is a season...

magz said...

this really lumped my throat up cliff, in a wonderful warmhearted way!

i like everything you write about always, but this, is my very very favorite. GREAT writing my friend, I too love cottonwoods, tho they dont flavor a steak near as well as the mesquites out here.

taza said...

Cliff, that was really something, I wish I had at least one tree shading my house. The pix were great and I'm glad you took them. Guess what, everything changes, at least almost everything....and yet the energy of those trees is still kicking around here somewhere.

Kirsi said...

Insightful lesson to have gained.

However I'm sorry the trees are gone.

Slipping Past 50 said...

Nice blog Cliff. Just cruising and looking randomly at blogs. My wife and I watched sadly last year as our neighbors 100 foot chinese magnolia had to be removed. It had lasted through more than one tornado, but couldn't survive the lightning strike that split it from top to bottom.

Anonymous said...

For years I sat on the metal chair on the porch--(it rocked) and listened to the rustle of the cottonwood leaves--I loved that sound--even rocked a few babies there---so beautifully written, cliff---those trees are memorable to us all---Robbie

Cliff Morrow said...

Thanks kind readers, your comments are much appreciated. I have visited all of your blogs and will continue to do that.
Marilyn and I have planted 12 trees to replace the cottnwoods. We hope to be able to take advantage of some of the shade before we're gone. But we did it for the next generation.
Robbie, I saw that old yellow, metal rocker in the shed last week. Still have it. I'm guessing with your reputation for rocking children, it hasn't rocked as well since the last time you were in it.

Rhodent said...

Great post! We are watching an old live oak at church slowly die... some tree experts extimated that it was close to 300 years old. Sad.

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