Cottonwoods are another thing I associate strongly with life in the American West. They are sometimes scorned for being short-lived and quick to drop their hefty limbs in a windstorm, but to me, they are a hallmark symbol of the West. Seeing congregations of them clustered along small rivers in a Western meadow is a welcome sight to me; their leaves shimmer in the wind, catching flashes of sunlight. They are particularly beautiful in the autumn, when their leaves turn a vibrant yellow and provide much of what little fall color the West does have. And true to their name, they do release cottony seeds in the spring from pea-like pods, filling the air with what sometimes looks like downy snow. Their bark grows thick, rough, and cracked. An uplift of wind into the leaves of a cottonwood creates the most welcome rustling music, a sound forever linked in my mind to lazy summer afternoons, family picnics, and peaceful days.

What are your favorite trees?

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