The Cottonwood tree is the essence of Kansas; the John Hancock of its declaration. Its branches arch over roadways and split into jagged V's that line the sky in dark silhouette. The leaves, in contrast to sturdy bark, are delicate; rounded triangles that rustle together in whispered syncopation.
Our state tree, the Cottonwood stands strong, triumphant, majestic through the pull of each season; the harsh, cold winters of ice and snow, springtime's fury of storms, and summer's penetrating heat and galing winds. And during Autumn, it changes so quickly and subtly into its golden dressings that the ordinary suddenly turns into the spectacular.
So it is with our people. We may seem
ordinary, laid-back, plain. The glamour of the more appealing and visual grabs the fickle attention of a world on a fast-moving track.
But we endure with strength and resilience; bending with the wind, adjusting to the harsh sun, soaking up the rain. We fork in different directions and grow to different heights. And though each brings new perspectives and patterns to the palette of our lives, we come together through joy and despair to make a statement.
As autumn finally marches in, I look up. I notice the beauty and the strength that I so often take for granted. I'm thankful for the place that I stand and the people by my side. And though my corner of the world is just a very small part of a very large square, I am in awe at its magnificence.
So as leaves change color and the sky burst into cobalt blue, I tuck a quilt of comfort around me; content in my place, happy in my heritage and trusting that winter's arrival will be merely a slow introduction to new growth, new beginnings and new blooms.