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The young boy stood looking up at the naked ice-covered limbs of his favorite cherry tree. It was 4:30 in the morning and the full moon produced a silvery sheen in the ice, which almost seemed to originate within the branches themselves. The young man let out a deep sigh, which produced a cloud of ice crystals that slowly rose up as a gray mist amongst the limbs of the tree. As the young boy turned his eyes back to the snow covered path, his mind conjured up images of pies made from the bright red spheres of wonderful fruit this tree would produce in early summer.

The boy headed on to the barn, from which the gentle sound of cattle let him know that it was time for their morning feeding. The young boy would repeat this morning’s journey every day, seven days a week, 4 weeks a month until the winter snows would eventually gave way to spring rains. With the spring rains the boy became more and more fixated on his cherry tree. He was so delighted when the first pink and white blossoms began appear; but, at the same time, he was burdened by the fear of a late frost. Eventually, the blossoms were replaced with the beginnings of that most perfect of fruits: the cherry.

The young boy’s anxiety over a late frost was replaced by a deep sense of guardianship. He absolutely reveled in the thought of bathing his taste buds in the fruit produced by the cherry tree, but so did every bird in the county. To protect his tree from the inevitable onslaught of birds, he leaned boards up against the tree and place morsels of food on the upper part of the board. He hoped, in this way, to entice the barn cats to eventually venture into the branches of the cherry tree. He also placed an old stuffed owl on top of a pole, which he secured next to the tree.

Of course, he personally took on a daily vigil of protecting the tree. With every pail of milk he carried to the milk house, morning and night, the boy would stop and survey the tree for signs of birds. Should one be careless enough to perch in the tree, the boy would carefully set down the pail of milk, slowly reach for his bb-gun and turn the bird into cat food. He never paid any mind to the breed of bird; the fruit of the cherry tree must be protected at all costs.

Thanks to the faithfulness of the cats, the diligence of the owl, and the boy’s true aim, the cherry tree produced an abundance of fruit. As he had expected, the young boy’s grandmother turned the first harvesting of the tree into perfect cherry pies. She made them just the way the boy loved cherry pie: with extra thick pie crust on the top and on the bottom. Subsequent harvesting of the fruit from the cherry tree was canned and naturally an occasional pie was also made. Thus, the rewards of the cherry tree were both immediate and enduring.

As a youngster, the cherries served to pleasure the boy’s palate, but later in life he often considered how much effort and dedication is required to produce an abundance of good fruit.

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