I love the feel of cotton. I love wrapping a cotton sweater around myself or snuggling in my cotton sheets. When I was younger, around ten or twelve, my mom and I decided to discover the origins of cotton. We learned that one type of cotton comes from the Kapok tree, which, coincidentally, grows in a parking lot by our house. Naturally, as dedicated homeschoolers, we packed ourselves into the car and went to investigate.

There before us rose the glorious Kapok tree, full of pods that were simply exploding with fluffy cotton. However, it soon became apparent that we were at an impasse. The tree was tall and we were not. My mother, being the creative woman that she is, quickly came up with a solution. Hoisting me as high as she could, she armed me with an umbrella and ordered me to swat down the precious fluffballs. A monumental battle ensued but alas, being only mere mortals, we were doomed to failure. Did I mention that the Kapok tree, among its many other qualities, possesses a trunk chock-full of spikes? No? Well, keep that in mind.

There we were, a swaying, umbrella-wielding giant, engaged in epic warfare with a tree in a public parking lot located by a busy street. The passersby must have gasped in horror when my mother lost her balance and we both went crashing into the aforementioned, eagerly awaiting spikes. I cried… a lot. However, we were victorious and as we laughed and sobbed on our way home, we clutched our prize: fluffy cotton.

Every time I pull on a cotton t-shirt or snuggle in my sheets, I am reminded of my childhood battle with the Kapok tree. Although this is a basic fabric, its simple beauty reminds me that knowledge can only be earned through dedication, toil, and sometimes, epic umbrella battles.