The Silver Poplar was clearly growing in the neighborhood in 1968 though I have no idea where. I have to believe that I collected it from a yard in Windom. I have no memory of the tree growing in our yard on the farm, and it almost certainly would have been a landscape tree. A bit of internet research reveals that it is a native of Southern Europe and Central Asia, where is grows along streams. It has been a popular tree in cultivated gardens since at least the 16th century and was included in the first American arboretum. I'm told it is weak of wood and short lived, and even considered a bit old-fashioned by today's nursery trade. Nevertheless, it has a venerable history and remains widely grown. It is a relative of the willow and the aspen. I was happily surprised by that last bit. While I have no special memories of the tree from my youth, I do enjoy it now and have often thought of it as "our aspen" without knowing that there was actually a relationship. I have a new appreciation for the bright, flashing leaves and gentle whisper of wind in the branches.
I lost a dear friend on Saturday, and she has been in my thoughts all day today. I thought of her especially as I walked the back fence collecting material for future entries in this series. In our prime, we camped and hiked and rustled plants and organized to save unspoiled places and native habitats. Life eventually pulled us in different directions, and years passed without us seeing one another. When we would talk or visit after one of these gaps, it was as if we had just left off the day before. Our bond was strong. She has now cast off a failing body and is soaring on wings of light. It may seem odd to dedicate this project in the middle, rather than at the beginning, but that is what I'm going to do. Kunda Wicce, I dedicate this Collection to your memory, and will think of you with every leaf I pick and every tree I meet.