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8/28/2004

The Spirit Tree

I stepped out onto the old Plaza that was once the center of activity in frontier Ellsworth. Today the Union Pacific tracks run through town in pretty much the same location as they did when the famous Kansas Pacific hauled train load after train load of Texas Longhorns back east to put steak on the plates of hungry Northerners. But, the reason I was here on the Plaza was to take a picture.  
Today, the Plaza remains as a relatively undeveloped space recalling the wild and woolly days at the dawn of EllsworthÂ’s contribution to Wild West history. I was drawn by a stately old Cottonwood tree casting shadows over historic soil. It has stood on the Plaza for perhaps 100 years, so actually did not witness the turmoil and excitement that dominated Ellsworth 130 + years ago. But, for all that it missed the majestic old tree stands proud, providing a striking symbol of the prairie heritage of this town. 
It is said that Native American cultures revered the Cottonwood tree as a representation of the presence of the other world in our lives. The Cottonwood provided shade on this hot sea of grass. Refuge within the reaches of its limbs was, and still is, soothing to the soul as the wind whispered its secrets to those fortunate enough to rest beneath. In times of drought when the grass failed, Indian horses found nourishment from the wholesome tree bark.  
So few trees grew on the open plain, but the Cottonwood seemed to belong here. And when a Native American life came to an end, those very branches cradled his lifeless body as his soul journeyed to the world beyond.  
Today, the beautiful old Cottonwood called to me. With camera in hand I recorded its presence. May the spirit that it lends to this old Cattletown live on. 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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