Summer Snow

2015-06 PicIt’s summer snow time!  Not freak storms where six-sided frozen ice crystals fall on the ground as if it were December.  I mean the fluffy seed pods that look like cotton floating in the air.  Watching the aerobatics of these fuzzy flyers always brings a smile to my face.  Even now as a storm brews outside, the summer snow adds lightness to the weather’s ugly background.

I’ve always wondered what creates this seasonal display and decided to do some investigation.  At first I thought it to be milkweed.  However, it turns out milkweed seeds let loose in the fall.  After a little more digging, I found the most likely source is cottonwood (poplar) trees.

Where do they grow?  Although I see their seeds flying, I can’t say I’ve ever seen a tree with pods like in the pictures I looked at.  That may be because these are some of the tallest (67 – 130 ft.) growing trees around with branches too high to see the pods.  Even if the pods are largely out of sight, the seeds do a great job of making the presence of the trees known.

There’s a danger to doing research into things you look at in wonder and enjoyment.  It’s finding out realities that make you lose your engagement with what seems transcendent or even divine.  In this case, I found my pleasure under attack from stories about how the loss of milkweed in the environment is one factor in the decline of monarch butterfly populations.  Another assault came from reports that people cut down cottonwoods in a mistaken belief that it will reduce pollens that cause allergies.

My defense is to remember how much fun it is to drive through seed squalls without fear of losing visibility or traction.  Another is thinking about making angels in patches of cotton on the lawn.


Skip to comment form

    • Barbara Pattee on May 25, 2016 at 9:02 am
    • Reply

    Sue, your story reminds me to open my eyes and appreciate the beautiful sights in nature.

    • Kelly Bixby on July 14, 2015 at 11:12 pm
    • Reply

    Sue, the beauty and significance of summer snow comes across in your descriptive article. Very nice.

      • Sue Remisiewicz on July 19, 2015 at 4:45 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you, Kelly!

    • Claire Murray on July 3, 2015 at 11:59 am
    • Reply

    Good story. I enjoyed your insights.

      • Sue Remisiewicz on July 19, 2015 at 4:45 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you, Claire!

    • Karen Kittrell on June 29, 2015 at 11:09 am
    • Reply

    You make a great point about marveling at the mystery rather than discovering the reality.

      • Sue Remisiewicz on July 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you, Karen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.