Yale University Art Gallery
Robert Adams: The Place We Live
I often think of a line by Edward Thomas, “trees and us—imperfect friends.” Cottonwoods have been our friends for a long while. The Arapaho believed that the stars came from cottonwoods, from the glistening sap at the joints of twigs. Immigrant wagon trains followed along from one grove to the next, with cottonwoods serving as landmarks, shelter, and fuel. But the human side of this friendship has weakened. Agribusiness now wages wars on cottonwoods because the trees compete for water, and suburban developers replace them with conveniently small but ecologically disruptive species like Russian olive. Main Street in Longmont used to be lined with cottonwoods, but they were all cut down.

—R.A., 1994