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For over half a century, I regretted my actions deeply.
Whenever I walked by the tree, I promise you I could “feel” her suffer. The ax damage I had begun on her at age nine had only been widened and stretched out over time; eventually becoming a gaping, elongated, deep wound for all the forest to see.
Yet. The tree had somehow survived.
And not only did the tree survive, but she had somehow managed to thrive. This tree was now the tallest in all the Sunnybrook woods (a fact I knew, because I knew those woods so well).
How could that be??
I had gashed the tree 44 times with the hardest possible swings of my ax. I chose 44 because it was how many home runs Carl Yaztrzemski had hit for the Boston Red Sox that year in the regular Major League baseball season. The Yaz was not a big man. But he swung sooooo hard.
Well, let’s back up a tad in time. When October of 1967 came and the World Series began, I promptly planned to “get sick” and miss school - with hopes of watching a couple of day games on our home tv. That is, until Mom caught on that I really wasn’t so sick after all. Moms can do that pretty well, you know.
My plan did work well enough for me to stay home and watch one day game, at least. Ah, but the best laid plans of mice and men …
After experiencing a heart-to-heart talk with my mother after the first game - a talk that induced within me a nearly miraculous recovery from my apparent sickness - I took my new ax into the Sunnybrook woods. I had actually gotten the ax several months back for my birthday. Yes, boys commonly received such gifts back then. I had gotten a shiny new pocket knife the year before - a knife I took to school daily to show my friends on the playground. (Imagine that being allowed today. Times do change. As do cultures and laws.)
That evening I had in mind to chop down a big tree with my still shiny ax. And I aimed to swing it as hard as the Yaz himself swung a baseball bat.
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