the chestnut tree

6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
lower branches of Dad’s chestnut tree in his garden ~ 6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

“We lost the chestnut tree.”

My sister delivered the most important news first. On Sunday we had last talked on our cell phones, and she let me know then that they had lost power at our father’s house, courtesy of the freak Halloween Nor’easter that caught Connecticut by surprise this past weekend, dumping over a foot of heavy wet snow on most of the state. Dad had a cold, and they had the wood stove going trying to keep him warm. Then her cell phone went dead and I heard nothing further.

This afternoon, two days later, she finally was able to make it down to her office and call me from work. They have their power back now, but still no land line or cell phone service. Beverly says I won’t believe the damage up there, although I am seeing many news reports on TV. Apparently the state lost more trees in this storm than we did during Hurricane Irene. With the wood stove they were able to keep Dad’s room at 70°F (21°C), although like many elderly ones, he doesn’t feel comfortable until the temperature is about 80°F (27°C).

When my father was a young man – he is now 89 years old – he found the chestnut sapling in Pennsylvania and brought it home with him, transplanted it in Connecticut soil, and nurtured it to a full-grown, gorgeous tree. When his short-term memory started disappearing several years ago, he would tell me the story over and over, every time I went up for a visit, which used to be several times a week. He looked forward to seeing it outside his window every morning, and was very attached to it, his special tree.

In June of 2010 it bloomed! A lovely scent filled the air. I’ll never forget it.

We used to decorate it with flower garlands for Midsummer.

And now the Halloween Nor’easter of 2011 has uprooted it. Beverly reports that when Dad discovered what had happened he simply said, “This is demoralizing.” I cried when she told me. The storm also took the tops off several oak trees and the yard and the roads are a mess. Poor trees. They’ve taken such a beating this year…

33 thoughts on “the chestnut tree”

    1. Welcome to my blog, Pearl, and thank you for your kind words. Sometimes it takes only three words to express so much.

  1. Hi,
    I have also been reading about the terrible storms you have been having over there, my heart goes out to all those that have suffered damage, and of course loss of power.

    I’m sorry to hear about your Dads chestnut tree, it is very easy to get attached to things like this especially if you have planted and cared for the tree yourself.

    1. Thank you, Mags. Dad’s lost so many things in the past twenty years – his wife, his mobility, his independence, his dignity, his short-term memory – this must have felt like the last straw… We’ve never had this much snow in October.

      Connecticut still has about 550,000 customers without power, down from more than 800,000. This is the fourth day and it’s been very cold overnight. People are using generators incorrectly and we’ve had several deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning – not a good situation…

    1. Jeff, I don’t know what happened to the interrupt some of the subscriptions, you’re not the only one this happened to. Please try and subscribe again and let me know what happens. When Nate gets done moving I’ll ask him to look into it. Maybe he switched subscription widgets or something.

      I heard on the news that officials are estimating, incredibly, that we lost five times as many trees in Connecticut in this storm as we did during Hurricane Irene. Nothing lasts forever, I know, but it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.

  2. I felt prickles of tears at the loss of your dad’s chestnut tree, his companion. I wonder when he said, “This is demoralizing” if he was also speaking about himself, about the young man who transplanted the sapling, and who now will someday be transplanted himself in heavenly ethers. Smelling the magic of those sweet blossoms at their most lovely peak. Hugs, Barbara. Glad you are back in the communication loop.

    1. Thank you so much, Kathy, for your thoughtful, sympathetic words. I never thought of it that way before, but moving from this life to the next one is a transplanting, isn’t it? I read somewhere that trees are the most spiritually advanced plants on this planet. The roots are grounded in the earth and the branches embrace the sky. What amazing energy they have for healing and meaning…

  3. I’m so sorry Barbara to hear the news about your Dad’s tree. I love trees too, and this just saddens me to see it. Mother Nature can be a monumental challenge at times, to say the very least. I can attest to that as I live near the ocean in Florida! Nonetheless, my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family, and others affected by the storm. By the way, I have been having the same problem with my subscription. I don’t get your posts anymore. Plus, when I leave a comment, it doesn’t come up in my “Comments I’ve Made.” Nor do I see follow-up comments in my dashboard. Anyway, just thought I would let you know about it. Thanks Barbara for sharing such a heartfelt post.

    1. Thank you, Donna, for your sympathy and understanding. Mother Nature looks for balance, I’m sure, and is teaching us things by means of these painful losses. My friend lost an apple tree. Incredibly, we still have over 200,000 customers without power in Connecticut this morning.

      I’m so sorry about the subscription problems! Not sure what the problem is or was, but please try subscribing again – it seems to have worked for Jeff. I don’t think your comments to this bog will show up in your dashboard because this blog is self-hosted at I think there should be a box under the comment box to be notified by email of any responses to your comments. Hope this helps!

  4. I’ve been enjoying exploring your blog. This post really resonates with me. My elderly father has an old oak tree that is hollow and has lost some branches. Dad worries that the tree will won’t last as long as he will.

    1. Sheryl, I’m learning from blogging that there are many people deeply in love with and attached to trees! I was so aware of their energy while growing up, and then blocked that “childish nonsense” from my consciousness for many years as a young adult. But now that I have uncovered my squelched sensitivity to these beautiful beings it’s wonderful to discover that there are so many others sharing their experiences with trees. I suspect the very young and the very old are most aware of this healing energy. Since your dad’s tree is hollow and has lost some branches, I bet he feels a deep affinity with the elderly oak tree.

      1. I came back to this post from eight years ago again this morning. The post, and your thoughtful response to my comment, has continued to resonate with me, and is one of the most memorable of my blogging experiences. Thank you! My father is gone now, and the old oak tree he loved so much is gone too now, though it outlived him by several years.

        1. Thank you so much, Sheryl, for letting me know this post still resonates with you. It seems so long ago and far away… If I remember correctly we were going through similar times there, caring for our aging fathers. When confronting loss my father always said, “Remember the good times,” even at our pet funerals. I hope memories of your father continue to comfort you as well.

  5. Sorry to hear about your dad and your family’s terrible experience with the snow storm. I watched the news showing how the snow caused so much devastation. I felt bad for your dad when he had to be in the cold because there was no power. And the loss of the chestnut tree was painful. It holds so much memories and now its gone. I hope is well now. With love and support I know your family will rise up after the storm. God bless you always…

    1. Thank you for your compassionate wishes, my friend. I was worried about my dad, too. As you probably know from being in the health care field, the elderly gradually lose the ability regulate their body temperatures, so keeping Dad warm even when they have power is challenging! Everything is getting back to normal now, for us, but there are still over 200,000 statewide with no power. It will take some time to clean up the damage,and now I wish I had taken more pictures of the chestnut tree…

  6. Hi Barbara,
    I’m also not getting email notices. But when I tried to subscribe it said I was already a subscriber…

    I’m really-really sorry to hear that your father’s beautiful tree fell over in the freak storm. Has anyone taken him to the tree to say farewell and thank you? I’m sure it would be a very healing experience for your Dad. And you.

    I’ve recently been made aware of the hidden power and wisdom of trees and hope to learn how to communicate with them so I can pick up their healing energy.

    Do you remember where you read that
    “trees are the most spiritually advanced plants on this planet”?

    1. Hmmm… Gosh, Rosie, I’m not sure what the problem with your subscription is. Tim just subscribed with a different identity to see if he gets notice of my next post. I don’t want to bother my son just yet as he is in the middle of moving…

      It would be wonderful to take Dad out to say farewell to his tree, but there is no wheelchair access to that part of the yard. Two years ago we gently wheeled him down there over the bumpy terrain for Midsummer, but he was so frail that he felt insecure and anxious the whole way and too upset to ever try that again… He can see it from his window however.

      Well, I just Googled “trees are the most spiritually advanced plants on this planet” and found lots of links! Here’s a page that looks promising!
      I’m off to read it now! 🙂

      1. Hi Barbara,
        I tried subscribing again. Let’s see…

        What a shame that your Dad’s too frail to be wheeled out there.

        Thanks for the link. I’m going to look at it now.

        1. Keeping my fingers crossed about the subscription!

          I think I just added another book to my wish list, “Gospel of the Living Tree: For Mystics, Lovers, Poets & Warriors” by Roderic Knowles. 🙂 If I get it I’ll lend it to my dad…

          1. Hmmm – I wonder if it would be cheaper to buy it directly from the publisher’s website…

  7. This was a beautiful post Barbara – I am sorry for the loss of your father and wish the tree would have not met its demise so he had to know about it. At first I thought that was Superstorm Sandy you were referring to as I just heard today it was the anniversary but didn’t remember the date – it was one year later. Coincidentally this snowstorm was on Halloween.

    1. Thank you, Linda. We won’t soon forget that infamous Halloween Nor’easter around here. We had no idea then what was in store for us a year later when Superstorm Sandy hit us. Even after that storm, when I showed my father pictures of the devastation outside, my father said it still wasn’t as bad as the Hurricane of 1938. It’s a good thing, I think, that we can’t know what will happen to us in the future!

      1. The weather has been too erratic to my liking the last four or five years. I remember on December 3, 2017, it would have been Marge (my neighbor and close friend who passed away)’s 80th birthday – she died in Auust that year. I was speaking to her son next door who was in a tee-shirt and shorts – it was actually very warm that day. People were putting up Christmas decorations in shirtsleeves.

        That was a bad Halloween for you and a double whammy essentially with Superstorm Sandy the following year. All we can do is hope for the best, but these volatile storms really worry me.

        1. Same here, when I watch the news and see how many people need to evacuate when their homes are threatened or destroyed by fire, floods or earthquakes, it adds to my sense of uncertainty and insecurity. Even though I know there are no guarantees in life it just seems that these kinds of happenings used to be rare, not everyday stories. My deepest fear is that we’ve passed the point of no return where climate change is concerned.

          So sorry about your friend Marge. We had a December like that in 2015. The forsythias even started blooming! 🙁

          1. I agree with you Barbara – it’s gone too far and there is no repairing what has been damaged with the erratic weather and sad tales of forest fires and other natural disasters. Natural habitats for wildlife is gone as well. Going against the previous ideas of learned scientists is reckless. I feel badly about Marge – still do. I wrote a post about her the day she died. I am trying to remember 2015 if it was mild here. In 2017 Marge’s magnolia bloomed multiple times. Marge was close to my mom too. We had no family except each other so she treated us like her family which was nice. Here is a post I wrote the day she passed away.

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