What Is It With Me and This Tree? by Sherrie Hansen

Sunset - Zion

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that my husband and I recently lost the tree in front of the parsonage where we live in Hudson, Iowa.

Zion - Tree 14 branch

So what is it about losing this tree that traumatized me? In the strictest sense, this tree wasn’t even mine, since our church owns our house and our yard. I’ve only lived here for two years. It’s not as though I grew up with this tree.  I have no idea who planted it and I didn’t even know it existed until recently.

Zion - tree

But we had a special bond, this tree and I.  I started admiring its beauty and photographing it even before I knew its days were numbered.

Zion - Tree 14

Once its great arms began to sag and its trunk wasn’t able to endure the stress of blizzards and winds and storms, I tried my best to memorialize it.

Zion 2014 Tree 2

Our Church council president has already promised to plant a new tree come spring.

Zion 2014 Tree

The wind is howling again tonight, and I am secretly glad that there are no more creaking and cracking, rubbing and splintering noises outside my window.

Zion 1-14 Tree

The men who took the tree said it wouldn’t have stood much longer. I was afraid it was going to fall on the house. It is good that it is gone.

Zion - 2013 Sunset

It’s branches will provide warmth for several families next winter.  Its wood will not go to waste. Small comfort, but something.

Zion - 2014 cold house

Our house looks lonely and bare without the tree, and sunsets are just not the same. But I know it was the right thing to do.

Zion tree split

Sometimes things just can’t be fixed. And that is the real problem with me and this tree.

Sunset - Good Friday

I like things to be perfect, for every thing and every one to have a happy ending.

Zion - tree down

There has come a time in my life, where I am starting to realize that there are more sad endings than happy. There are a whole list of things that I can’t do as well as I used to, and will never be able to again.  I’m getting old. I’m on a downhill slide.  I haven’t cracked yet, but I may – probably will – one day soon.

Zion - tree crack

Just a silly old tree – yet its loss affected me. Replaceable. Botanical. It was just a tree.


It stood its ground, gave leafy green shade. It witnessed more than a century of sunsets, salvation and nativities.

Now, its time is done. It’s time to step aside and let another tree do its job.

Zion - fall steeple 2013

Now lest you think I’m totally depressed, there is one thing that I think I keep getting better and better at, and that is writing. It’s fun, as I age, to have a skill – a passion – that’s still  growing. The things that I’ve seen as I’ve stood, watching half a century of sunsets, are a network of branches that keep spreading wider and wider. And the more I know, and experience – the greater my understanding, the better.  So that’s the end of my tree. But not of me.

Zion 1-14 Sunset


Filed under photographs, Sherrie Hansen, writing

8 responses to “What Is It With Me and This Tree? by Sherrie Hansen

  1. What a lovely piece. And soon you will chronicle the growth of a new tree, where new squirrels will play and new birds sing. May your branches and your tree’s keep spreading wider.

  2. Sherrie, ever notice how we do not admire sprouts or saplings? We don’t admire half grown trees or even tall mature ones. The trees we admire are those who have weathered, endured and withstood. They have a wisdom about them that automatically grants them a special place in our hearts. Often people are criticized for anthropomorphic descriptions of animals–yet with your tree the same human qualities can be imputed: persistence, integrity, service. It was a creature for all seasons. I guess trees, like writers, have more to share as they get older. And the wise ones of us are eager to hear.

  3. Another thoughtful post. There are many, many things that are difficult to say goodbye to. But you are right–your writing continues to get better all the time!

  4. Jeannine

    Have you thought of publishing this piece along with most of the pictures you take? You could write a poem to go along with the pictures. You do have a talent on both picture taking and writing.

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