The Pioneer Cabin Tree fell this weekend. Hollowed out in the 1880s, the still-living giant sequoia succumbed to the heavy storms currently pounding California. According to the Chicago Tribune, generations of visitors etched their names on the tree’s hide over the past 137 or so years. So that means that someone’s great grandfather’s hand-carved initials splintered and fell, too. Family memories uprooted and toppled. Lying shattered now on the soaked forest floor.
I stumbled on this news item in my morning Twitter feed, and it felt like a punch to the gut. (Actually, it felt like the latest in a series of punches to the gut delivered over the course of 2016’s entirety. Only it’s 2017 now, and 2016 is supposed to be fading in the distance of our collective rear view mirror. Right?)
It’s the type of unexpected gut punch that results from taking something or someone special for granted. That sin is compounded when that something or someone special is irreplaceable, invaluable, and seemingly just going to be there forever. I’m guilty of presuming the permanence of many things and many people. Every day I do this. It’s a constant struggle not to fall victim to this lazy, mind-numbing habit. I wish that a 150-foot tall tree likely alive during Lincoln’s presidency didn’t need to meet its end in order for me to wake up. But it did. And now I’m awake. So today I’ll plan to make a couple long-overdue phone calls, hug my two sons a little longer whether they like it or not, look deeply into my wife’s eyes, and walk my dog in the pungent woods — taking a moment to see and appreciate the trees along the way.
If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I think so. Pretty sure I heard it. I hope you did too.
Thanks for reading.