Little Balls of Fire | Letters | Chicago Reader

Little Balls of Fire 

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To the editor:

Michael Brownstein's July 15 article "Summer Snow," about the seeds billowing from his backyard cottonwood tree, is a thoughtful meditation on the lives of people and trees. But it failed to mention the most wonderful characteristic of the gentle, white puffs of seed: they are highly flammable.

With just a touch of a lighter, the undulating clumps of seeds in the gutter erupt in a fireball--and fizzle moments later. The white sheet of seeds on lawns near the trees turns into a short-lived carpet of flame. The seeds burn too quickly to set anything else ablaze; all that remains is the odor of smoke.

If Mr. Brownstein--or his neighbors--wants to eliminate the seeds, he should send the kids around with cigarette lighters on hot June nights. It's a powerful, intoxicating sign that summer has truly arrived, to see cottony flakes rain from the trees only to be incinerated in brief bursts of flame.

Marc Schoenberg

N. Seeley

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