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The Sound of a Tree Falling

While walking in Mission City Memorial Park Feb. 21, local residents Barbara Osborn and her husband, Charles, came across a very large, fallen cypress tree blocking one of the cemetery roadways–a casualty of the heavy rain and wind that had battered Santa Clara the day before.

“I wonder what it sounded like when the tree fell?” Osborn asked her husband, recalling the old philosophical and scientific question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Santa Clara Deputy Parks and Recreation Director Dale Seale, an arborist, estimated the mature Monterey cypress tree to be about 60 years old and 70 feet tall. He said that about 15 trees in the City’s 38 parks had been trimmed back or removed in the last few wet weeks, including perhaps four or five that fell.


Seale pointed out that mature trees, like mature people, are more vulnerable to stress than younger trees.

“When we see an excess of water, we’re going to have to be more vigilant,” said Seale. “Going from one extreme to another–from drought to excessive rain to the dry season–can stress a tree. All are stressors for mature trees.”

Mission City Memorial Park, 420 N. Winchester Blvd., is a 30-acre city-owned and operated cemetery. For information, visit the City website: or call (408) 615-3790. The Santa Clara County Historical & Genealogical Society ( maintains an online index of those buried in the cemetery from 1864 to 1997.



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