You just never know what you’re capable of until your back is against the wall, the chips are down and … I’m out of cliches.

(BTW, my unhelpful spell checker doesn’t recognize “cliche.” It keeps saying “do you mean ‘chicle’?” Which is, according to my Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate, a type of gum used in chewing gum … and, omg, now we know where the name Chiclets comes from. My other word option is “cloche,” which the dictionary says is a transparent plant cover to protect from frost. Who knew it had a name other than clear plastic thingy? No, dear spell checker, neither option is viable, but if you could tell me how to put that pretentious French accent mark on the word I do want, that would be useful. kthnx.)

Meanwhile, back to the mundane part of my story. I needed to move where I feed horses this winter because some of my hay is dusty from the alfalfa leaves crumbling when it was baled, and I wanted to be near a water source in case I had to drag a hose out and water the hay a bit. However, this meant feeding two of the horses at a tight spot in their pen where I had an electric fence around this scraggly old willow tree. This would not do — horses being horses and prone to crabbing about who has the best bite of hay or the nicest place to stand or if somebody’s looking at someone else funny or getting their cooties on somebody else. Horses are like that.

I didn’t want the horses to get into this bind. Plus, the new attitude in the humans around here as we work to clean up the place is: screw it, get rid of it.

So after 21 years of this pitiful tree being in the way in the horse pen and despite my love of all things tree out here on the prairie, I ripped the poor sucker out of the ground.

I know, right? It was older than me, like a little grandmother of trees, and I just went for the throat. Unconscionable. I still can’t believe I did it. I am a horrible person, an evil force of destruction.

It’s been 10 days, and I still feel guilty. I wrote an homage to the dearly departed tree, had it published out in the world, and then put it in the Write On folder linked at the top of this page. It didn’t really make me feel better. I’m guessing it didn’t make little willow tree feel any more alive either.

Is there a twelv-step program for the chronically guilty? at: pam(at)