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View from the Cab: The grove of trees

The Casson family cottonwood trees shown last fall / CIFN photo.

A row of old cottonwood trees near the home where I grew up always brings back special memories.

When driving by these trees last fall during the busy harvest season, I had to take a moment to stop and think about all of the time I spent playing around those trees. It was around the cottonwoods where I first learned to mow and understand the value of hard work by picking up sticks and hauling items to the brush pile with Dad.

When I learned to drive a car at such a young age on the farm, the “grove of trees” (which we often referred to the area as) was my main destination. Whenever I took a bike ride down the lane, I would have to ride to these trees to take in their wonder. As a child, I recall mowing trails in the grass and calling the area “Casson Park” complete with a make believe parking area and camping spots.

The cottonwoods provided the perfect background for picnic lunches as a kid. Mom would take my brother and me over there at a young age to take a little stroll away from home with the family dog. Dad even built me a tree house between two of the trees one summer. This was the coolest place to go since it seemed like a long way from home.

When you think about it, these trees have seen a lot more over the years than my family has. I don’t even know how long they have been there, but they were a big part of my childhood. I have even taken my own kids to see the trees – whether on a quick four-wheeler ride or a brief walk. I don’t think the farm of my childhood would quite be the same without these local landmarks.

I recall those trees were among the first to get their leaves in the spring but were also the first to lose them in the fall. You always knew when you started mowing over the crunchy brown cottonwood leaves that the other trees would soon follow. The number of trees has declined over the years since some were the victims of storms, strong winds and even an occasional lightning strike, but the memories still live on.

It was great attending the All Day Ag Outlook Meeting hosted by Illinois Public Media last Tuesday at the Beef House in Covington. Some may strictly attend for the meal, but I also find the market presentations fascinating. It sounds like we could be in for an interesting growing season.

(The View from the Cab is powered each week by Petersen Motors in Fairbury)

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