City’s tree losses weigh us down

As a young girl, my cousins and I turned a tree in my Grandma’s front yard into a horse, a house and a place to hang out.

“Climb Tree” we christened it and we spent hours being goofy and bonding as family in that tree. When it wasn’t that tree, we attacked her weeping willow like apes, gathering branches in our arms and swinging back and forth, until a sane adult scolded us that we would break the tree.

Both trees are gone from my grandparent’s former yard but the memories of our play stick with me.

Trees are a big deal in a prairie state like ours, where most have been planted by someone since we weren’t blessed with a natural wealth of trees. They say you plant tress for the next generation because that’s who will enjoy their maturity and shade.

At my acreage, we’ve planted dozens, including a tree for each of our three children when they were born. Planting trees represents our belief and hopes in the future.

The coolest tree by far on our more than 100-year-old place is a towering pine that points 40 or more feet into the air. During this storm the ice pelted and stuck to one side of the tree in particular and it started to sag to the ground with branches almost sweeping the snow below. Normally, the tree is a canopy to sit or walk under.

So far, we haven’t lost our tree. But most people in Sioux Falls have lost one or two or dozens of trees. Along the Russell Street boulevard, every single tree has a significant branch snapped off. There are countless examples of that throughout the city.

The ice storm has attacked and damaged the city’s trees far more harshly than any summer thunderstorm in years. Branches in some cases are encased in an inch of ice, weighing them down with the weight of the world or at least the shared sorrow over the city’s fallen trees.

When the ice melts and the branches and limbs and even trunks are cleaned up, it’s going to be time to plant some new trees.

We want to hear your tree stories. Did you lose a favorite tower in your yard, an autumn maple that provided a show each fall or a special tree planted in memory of someone? Share your stories and thoughts on our Argus Leader Facebook page or email me at