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Owner of one of the Twin Cities' largest trees prepares to move to retirement home

Owner of Twin Cities' largest tree prepares to move to retirement home
Owner of one of the Twin Cities' largest trees prepares to move to retirement home 02:07

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. – Sunny Sonnheim's house gets an awful lot of shade. That's because tucked away in the backyard of her White Bear Lake home looms a giant cottonwood tree.

"If you stand back across the street you can see it way high above everything else," Sunny said.

RELATED: What are Minnesota's biggest trees and how do they stack up nationally?

She moved to Minnesota and this house about 50 years ago from Pennsylvania. It was much smaller then, but still impressive.

"Five people could hold hands around it," she said.

This is not the biggest cottonwood tree in Minnesota. The largest one on record is over 32 feet in circumference in Chippewa County. This one is roughly 24 feet all the way around.

Sunny left what looks like a 2-by-4 board leaning against the tree many years ago. That board has now been almost swallowed up, by the tree growing around it.

Sunny Sonnheim and her enormous cottonwood tree in White Bear Lake Donna Thaemlitz

Both the cottonwood tree and Sunny have been growing together for half a century. But now, this one-story house and its towering tree are up for sale.

So, will Sunny miss the tree when she moves away?

"Yeah I think so," she said. "It's just another stage in my life. I'll be 84 in August so it's time to move on."

Sunny will move to a retirement home in July. Saying goodbye to a comforting constant.   

"It's gonna be sad in a way because I spent so many years here. And it'll be also a little bit hopeful about looking into the next phase of my life and what that's gonna be like, so it'll be new adventure," she said. "That's mainly what life is, is an adventure."

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