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I find myself in an odd state of mourning.

While out on a walk, I came upon the sawed up remains of a birch tree whose circumference was well over twelve inches in diameter. The log pieces were sawed up and placed haphazardly across a lawn very much the way a bed of carrots would like on your plate.

This vision was a blow to what had been ingrained into me: that the birch tree was sacred, magical, and everlasting.

At least, as a child of six years old, that is what I believed.

I don’t remember very much about my primary schooling, but what I do remember are the visits to the museums.

There, we studied aboriginal history and my imagination was taken over by the idea of the mysteries of the birch tree, birch bark canoes and birch-bark paper.

My own parents planted birch trees in our yard, and tended to them well. I was taught to respect them, and for heaven’s sakes not to rip off the birch-bark paper because it would prove harmful to the tree.

It was perhaps my first lesson in self-discipline, the first thousands I have encountered in my life.

And so, with the scene of the dismembered birch comes yet another realization that something from childhood has been lost.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery said it best:

“One by one, our comrades slip away…

Deprive us of their shade.”

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