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By: Bryan Goldner

I happened across a stump. A whiskey barrel in diameter it was dark, crusted with pale green lichens and weathered with age. Had it not been my objective to displace this stump I would have thought it a stoical protrusion from the black lowland soil. Its existence an open rebellion against the human condition that drives our species to alter the natural state of affairs in his domain.

It was however, my duty to the state of Minnesota to remove this particular stump for the preservation of the scenic North Country Trail. A trail which is so sacred that its path can only be altered by an act of God or United States Congress. I wouldn’t hold my breath for either. Consequently, by placing itself in the center of the trail, this stump’s blatant disregard for federal decree was a slap in the face to me and frankly the American people. It was a recalcitrant old boor whose presence could only result in serious injury and certain death to the blind and peg-legged hikers of the trail.

I was left with only one option, termination of the stump. I approached with an arsenal of tools that would make most stumps recede back into the earth at the mere sight of them, but our friend was unyielding. I began a viking style assault at the base of the stump, yet like Hercules in the heat of battle with the Hydra, for every root I severed it seemed that three more took its place. I hacked and chopped, pushed and kicked, but to no avail. After what seemed an eternity I conceded defeat. I sat for a moment, gathered my tools, and proceeded to leave with what little shred of pride I could cling to, for I was bested by a worthy opponent.

As I sulked away, I looked back once more to jeer and mutter profanities under my breath in its general direction. It was staring back, obstinate in its glare, and thumbing its imaginary nose at me in abject triumph. Its victory hanging heavily over my head and by extension the whole of human existence. You win today stump… You win today.