Cottonwoods do have their place. I left a twenty year old one I’d planted in my Mentor back yard. Less than a mile from the lake, water table about six inches below ground, that tree was in cottonwood heaven and grew big and tall on its unlimited water supply. Its leaves were the first to show and the last to fall; it always rustled in the back yard. A comfortable tree in my Mentor back yard.
The fellow who expanded our septic system and leach bed the fall we moved in offered to take out the cottonwood. Recalling the rustle, I declined. So, the cottonwood grew on, at the in front of the oaks and maples that trail off into the woods.
The cottonwood, sixteen years ago
The cottonwood grew and grew. Erma Bombeck noted the grass is greener over the septic, and I can add that cottonwoods are bigger over the leach bed. It dominated the back yard; it sent mighty roots over to drink up the cistern water we use for the garden. The mighty roots became hills in the yard that tripped up the lawn mower. For all we knew, the mighty roots were tearing away the septic tank walls. The cottonwood was taking full advantage of its fortunate situation, but our outlook was less fortunate. New septic systems cost about twenty thousand dollars. Felling the tree, with some sadness, only nine hundred.
I could not watch it come down, but all the men in the neighborhood made up for my absence. When I came home from work there was just a stump and the next day that was ground to chips.
The area that was a cotton wood
This maple was behind the cottonwood. Unknown, unloved, sandwiched between an oak and the cottonwood. It’s pointing east, taking its advantage of what sun it received. The woodman offered to take it out, too. He said it would never have a straight trunk. No, but such an interesting one. Go, maple. It’s put in fifteen or twenty years to get here.