The storm that came through a couple of weeks ago broke out a couple of large, but not huge, branches from the cottonwood tree that towers over the horse pen. Their transfer from tree to ground brought about no corresponding damage to either of the geldings or to the fence or corral panels. Nor, apparently, was there any handicapping of the tree’s reproductive power. Although the leaves wilted, the buds proceeded to open, flower and generate prodigious amounts of the cottonwood’s infamous seed.
Imagine a twenty-ton dandelion, sixty-to-seventy feet tall and with branches extending thirty feet in every direction. That’s what the cottonwood tree is like during its month-long spawn.
In order to share the blessing, I hired fifteen-year-old Ben to come over and give me a hand. I knew he needed the money and I could stand the help. Using a pruning blade in my reciprocating saw, I cut the fallen limbs into pieces more easily handled. With the vibration of the sawing, small puffs of seed separated and drifted. When I began tossing branches over the fence onto the driveway for Ben to pick up and put in the truck, the small puffs turned into an onslaught.
By the time we’d loaded the truck and then unloaded everything on the burn pile, I looked like Yeti of the Plains.
I had cottonwood seed puffs on my neck, on my face, in my hair and in my nostrils. I felt like I was covered with the things. Somewhere in the midst of my slight misery, while I was wiping off my arms and face, two things occurred to me.
One was the fierce survivalist determination of the cottonwood. Even though the limbs had been severed from the tree for two weeks, they still produced their seed. I suppose I could conclude that even when I find my situation less than ideal, I can still be productive, still achieve the purpose for which I was planted.
The other thought that came to me was that if I had taken care of this task immediately, there wouldn’t have been a single piece of fuzz drifting through the air. If I had done all my cutting, lifting and packing within a day or two of the storm, none of the pods would have yet formed. Life must have a thousand ways of teaching us that procrastination bears its own rewards.