Time for comfort…


This is the Comfort Maple, thought to be the oldest sugar maple in Canada. It is probably more than 500 years old.

This tree has special significance for my family. My father, my mother, my sister and I have all photographed it over the years — in all the different seasons. Any time we have visited it, we have been awestruck by it, and it has shared with us some of its strength.

I think about what this tree has been alive through — some of the most horrific events of modern history, as well as some of the most hopeful and exciting. It was here long before anything we now recognize as North America.

Through it all, it has continued to grow — to hold firmly onto the ground, to take in the light, to burst into amazing colour, to delight many, to shed its leaves and retreat into itself over winter, only to bud again in the spring. It has repeated this cycle hundreds of times. We who live now have such a partial  picture of life — touching a tree like this helps us to take a longer view.

When I recently photographed the Comfort Maple, it was December and the tree was naked, silent and sober looking. When my sister, Elena Galey-Pride, who lives not too far away, photographed it earlier in the fall, it was dressed in glorious and exuberant colour. (She captured the beautiful images in the gallery below.) But both times, it appeared strong and determined, rooted to the earth — its very soul a part of the land it inhabits.

This tree, which is located in North Pelham, is called the Comfort Maple because it is on the land of the Comfort family.

I have been drawn to looking at pictures of the tree this weekend as I grapple with the heartbreaking loss of life in Connecticut. I can’t help but think of all the other brutal, inhuman acts being suffered by by fellow humans all over the world — the very young, the very old and all ages in between — things that go on every day and are not covered 24/7.

But I also have to think like a tree and know that there are trillions of acts of kindness and bravery and deep compassion happening at the very same time. Humans who reach out to their brothers and sisters in recognition that we are all completely and profoundly interconnected. I find a small measure of comfort there.

16 thoughts on “Time for comfort…

  1. Pingback: Don’t Miss These Awesome New Photography Links | my travels. my indulgence.

  2. Pingback: Don’t Miss These Awesome New Photography Links

  3. What a wonderful tree with an amazing history. So lovely to see it in the winter with the strong draping branches and also in the autumn with the wonderful colours.
    Yes, trees bring us back to our centre when all around us seems to be unstable. When we observe a tree, we realize how connected we are to this beautiful, living being.

  4. Great post so well written.
    Sherry thanks so much for visiting me, this year has really been rewarding, I’ve made new online friends and learnt that even though we are miles apart we all have a bond. Have a wonderful ChristmasDay. Here’s to a great and peaceful New Year…..

  5. This is beautiful and I love the story about the tree. When I first saw it and read some of what you wrote…I saw this strong and stately tree guarding those little evergreens behind it and isn’t that what we try to do with our children…the world’s children? Brave adults in Connecticut sacrificed their lives in an attempt to save the children. Amazing teachers!

  6. Your post reflects the tree – deep rooted thoughts, reaching down and out through space and time. Namaste, Sherry.

  7. Great post, Sherry – an important message, very moving and beautifully written. Thank you for this.

    BTW, that tree reminds me of our largest Bigleaf maple in its winter appearance – they have very similar shapes. Now you’ve got me wondering how old ours might be!

  8. What an amazing tree and your images (both your winter one and Elena’s autumnal photos) capture the wonder of it. It’s a reminder of what’s stable and what’s beautiful in the most profound sense of that word.

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