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Cottonwoods

cottonwood by riverHow I love the cottonwood trees that grow fast by my window. In spring, the females produce tiny red flowers, then small, hard seeds with cottony coats. The bark on young trees is smooth and white or gray; it wrinkles, as I do, slowly, with age. The shoots are stout, the leaves are spirally arranged, triangular or round, lustrous green on top and pale on the undersides. When the wind blows, the fluttering leaves sparkle like water droplets in sunlight. They slap against each other, clapping, whispering, chattering in the breeze. In autumn the leaves turn to brilliant yellow.

Cottonwoods cluster by the streams and rivers of the plains. The root systems are shallow and spread like long-fingered hands, sometimes outreaching the canopies, soaking up the fresh water they need to thrive.

O God, let me take to the sky like a cottonwood seed. Make me bright and sociable like that tree’s shining leaves. Nourish me with the water of life so that I too might send out long and robust roots that anchor me in storms. Keep me content to grow and flourish where I’m planted.

Amen.

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