“Major”

We’re on our way!

It’s a bit chilly, isn’t it?  I think we might get some snow soon.  Hey!  Take a look to our right, up on that hill over there.  See that White Pine tree next to that big Oak?  That White Pine reminds me of something…..

When I was in kindergarten, Mom got me a small little White Pine, about a foot tall, from our local school that was giving them out to children.  We took it home and planted it in our front yard.  We moved when I was in 2nd grade and made sure to take the White Pine with us when we went.

Besides having this seedling of a tree, I also grew up with my parents having two big flat-coated retrievers, a male (named Major) and a female (named Babe).  The male, Major, was almost my nemesis.  In the winter, when my brother and I were outside playing in the snow, we’d be having a great time until one of my parents let Major out.  When he saw us and we saw him, it was the hunter eyeing the hunted.  Why, you may ask?

This dog loved the snow; but even more, he loved to “pick one from the herd” and chase him down.  Once he was upon his prey, he would plow him into the snow, take his stocking hat (remember as a kid when they used to come with a ball on the top, usually the same color as the hat?) and gallop off to his secret lair, snickering to himself, an air of pompous victory emanating from some cruel gene, and chew the ball off the hat.  The victim would later find his hat laying abandoned in the snowy yard, covered with drool.  We sometimes found the balls–and when we did, they were sadly beyond resuscitation, drool dripping from them, snow-covered and maybe some grass and dirt thrown in the mix if Major was in a good mood that day.

When we would see him coming, we’d look at each other and know what the other one was thinking:  Holy crap, it’s Major!  Do I stay or do I run?  Can I get out of his line of fire before my brother does?  Should I take the hit for him?  Will I ever see this hat again?  You didn’t dare let the fear of something happening to your new stocking hat drive you to start running away from Major.  That only sealed your fate.  No, your chances of survival were far greater if you just stood there and waited for his sadistic game to play itself out.   Sometimes my younger brother would start to cry–probably because he knew he was going to lose another hat.  (He lost more hats  and balls to Major than I did.  I do recall a time or two of choosing to run from Major in the hopes of diverting his trajectory onto my brother’s path, who was by this time either running slower than I was or was already curled up in the fetal position in the snow, whimpering and probably praying for the rapture to happen NOW, just waiting for the inevitable.)

You know what?  That dog even came after us when we didn’t have any balls on our stocking hats!  If there was a ball on one hat but not on the other, that just meant that all three of us knew who he was going after.   And then the next time this would happen, and we’re both wearing castrated head gear, it was anybody’s guess.  Ah, such wonderful childhood memories!

Now here’s where the white pine comes in….