Category Archives: Cottonwoods

More “Snow”

As one of our bloggers mentioned in the last post, there is another kind of snow lying around these days. I found some just down the street. I believe this huge tree is a cottonwood or its relative, a grey poplar. Its  fuzz-covered seeds now fill the air and lie on the sides of the road, looking like real snow.

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The black cottonwood that I’ve seen in Montana has darker bark, and leaves that are more rounded than those of this tree. This is why I wondered about it being a grey poplar instead, although they are still related.

The fluffy bits are like cotton balls, and maybe this is where the cottonwood got its name.

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I’m so glad this snow will eventually blow away and that we don’t have to shovel it. Quite possibly it makes good fluff for lining a bird’s nest.

Do you have any fake snow where you live?

Water on Three Sides

What are you looking at here? Let me help you get your bearings.

The hills in the distance, and beyond them the mountains you can’t see because of the low cloud cover, are on the mainland of British Columbia, just north of Vancouver. I am standing on Vancouver Island. You can deduce from that, that the city of Vancouver is not on Vancouver Island. In this photo we are looking to the east.

I’ve climbed up a hill a little way and am now looking to the south. You can see a spit of land that reaches out from the land’s end. The spit has been formed by a gazillion years of wave action swishing the sand along and dropping it to form a giant finger of sand. All the land you can see in this photo, including the mountains, is on Vancouver Island.

Looking to the west, you can see the sheltered water on the inside of the spit, and the harbour of Comox in the distance. Those toothpicks sticking up are the masts and trolling poles of fishing boats and sailboats in the marina. The two boats at anchor in the foreground are getting free moorage.

A few weeks ago, the Captain and I went for a walk that took us to the inside of the sheltered bay. You can see part of the spit in the distance on the far right horizon.

On the way to the trail we noticed the run-off from the excessive amount of rain we’d had. This is not a year-round creek, but a temporary run-off creek. I feel sorry for the large tree that has its feet in water, day and night. It may soon go the way of the broken off tree trunk in the photo below this one.

It may be broken off, but this tree is still serving a useful purpose. It is making many birds happy. Nuthatches and woodpeckers will make holes in the trees to nest in,  and the bugs they find in the trunk help give them strength to continue their work and to feed their babies.

Farther along, we came to the boardwalk. I love this scene. You see the run-off creek completing the water cycle as it brings the rainwater back to the sea. It’s great to have the boardwalk and not have to wade through the creek.

The trees along the water are mostly deciduous types. They are probably cottonwoods and a few poplar or alder types mixed in. My guess is they are cottonwoods because those grow taller than the others, and these are a good size.

Even in the cool weather, you can have a great day going for a walk around your neighbourhood.

Sounds of Autumn

The sun warms my back, the wind cools my hair.

I photograph leaves that soon won’t be there.

Shushing and rustling cottonwood leaves,

Some cling to life in the stiffening breeze.

Others have flown, for the chilly night air

Has sent them a warning. “Oh trees, do beware.

The harsh days are coming; it’s time to prepare.

Your fluttering whispering dresses of gold

Must leave you alone now to suffer the cold.

But fear not, for soon you will warm up again.

New dresses will grow in the coming spring’s rain.”

 

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The video clip is of ten seconds in Montana. The wind is rumbling a bit in the microphone and the Captain is calling Ruby with his whistle, but the main thing I love about the clip is the sound of the wind in the leaves. It’s best if you make it full screen and you can almost feel as if you are there under the trees. Be sure to turn on the sound. That’s what it’s all about.

 

 

 

The Calico Cat

When the Captain and ten-year-old Ruby went for a pheasant walk through the fields, the first thing they scared up was a beautiful calico cat who was also hunting by the side of the road. Ruby was startled and made a few leaps in the cat’s direction but the Captain called her back. I was surprised to see that Ruby was so quick to obey when the chase instinct must have been strong.dscn6774a

The cat was taking no chances and leaped up into the safety of a nearby cottonwood, and there she stayed, long enough for me to get some pictures anyway.  dscn6790a

As I zoomed the camera in, I noticed what a pretty cat this was. Not just your run-of-the-mill stray hunter.dscn6789a

And what gorgeous green eyes she had! I wanted to ask her to move her head so that twig wasn’t in front of her face but she wasn’t budging. She was safe in the tree and that’s where she would stay until all danger was past.dscn6788aI didn’t want to think about the baby birds she might have killed this spring. I preferred to think about the mice she catches so the prairies won’t be overrun with them.

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The calico cat

Is not getting fat

But she’s keeping the prairies clean.

Oh mouse, you should run.

For the kitty, it’s fun

Though I’m sure you would think she is mean.

The calico cat

Has no cozy mat

By the fireplace, safe in a house.

She still needs to eat

And she’s quick on her feet,

So run for your life, little mouse.

Flooded Farms

Another shot of the Milk River very high and overflowing its banks.

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It pours into the nearby fields.

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I felt sorry for the cottonwoods sitting in so much water.

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The ditch must be fairly deep here. I wouldn’t want to accidentally drive off the road here.

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But here is the saddest part of the story. Much of the work of the season’s grain harvest was a waste of time. The hay is soaking and will likely not dry out before the cold weather comes.

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Some of the hay that was stacked high might be salvageable but the loss is still devastating to the farmers who worked so hard. The flood waters almost look like snow but it is definitely water – this week, anyway. Soon the fields will be covered with snow too.

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Some of the buildings in this area were also flooded but as we were driving I couldn’t get the photos taken in time. News reports say it is the worst flooding in this area, from Hinsdale to Glasgow, in 30 years. I feel very sorry for the people affected.

Water, Water Everywhere

As we got near the town of Hinsdale, Montana, I got my camera ready to take pictures of the Milk River, the tiny creek that flows under the highway there. It’s always such a picturesque sight and perhaps  I felt some affection for this coffee-with-cream coloured river because I’ve seen its northern reaches in Alberta.  But what a surprise to see the Milk River looking like one of our Great Lakes.dscn6647a

Past the bridge, the ditches were filled with water and the black cottonwoods that I love so much were soaking their feet in the muddy floodwaters.

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Fields were flooded so high that the water nearly threatened to cross the highway at one point.

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In the higher elevations the precipitation stuck to the hills as snow. Even this was unusual for early October, but I would rather see the moisture up there than flooding the fields.

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In my next post I will show some of the devastation the flooding has caused.