Town poet remembers the cottonwoods

Photo by Diane Leary
The trunks of the old cottonwoods along Poplar Drive at Shelburne Farms. The trees were removed in pieces last month and will be repurposed into furniture and replaced by new trees.


I enjoyed the article “Changing Shelburne Farms’ landscape” and photos in the Dec. 27, 2018 issue of the Shelburne News.

Though saddened by the loss of these “Silent Giants,” I understand that safety became an important issue. I was raised on Shelburne Farms and grew up knowing Poplar Drive. As a young child however, I called it “Popular Drive.” My father finally corrected my English with a grin on his face.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to walk, bike, ride in a carriage, sleigh ride along that lane. Last summer, I had the dream job of driving a John Deere tractor with shuttle wagons in tow, transporting visitors from the welcome center to the farm yard. I enjoyed seeing these “Silent Giants” three times a week and enjoyed them in the ever-changing moods of the weather.

Yes, I am sad to see the empty view now, but for the safety of thousands of visitors it was time. I am happy to know they will live on as beautiful furniture.

I look forward to the replanting of these magnificent trees and watch them grow into the next generation. Here is my “Tribute to the Silent Giants.”

A Tribute to the Silent Giants
Eastern Cottonwoods


Farewell o silent giants.
We will miss your towering shade,
Where memories, dreams and footsteps
From our minds shall never fade.

Shadows cast beneath the moon
Danced on the quiet fields below,
Where sleigh and tractor passing by
Trace history long ago.

Rick Bessette is Shelburne’s poet laureate.  This was written with fond memories of Poplar Drive, Oct. 28, 2018.

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