Saturday, November 06, 2004


Check me out. Spend the morning musing on the History of Ideas, and the afternoon chopping a cord of firewood, and tonight I'm off to the Bike Stop for fun and frolic. Am I a renaissance leatherman or what?

On the wood chopping. After a couple of hours of splitting wood, I started roaming the property looking for downed trees that I could haul back and cut up. While busy with this, I saw The Tree. About thirty feet away from the house, it was a big one. Easily sixty or seventy feet tall. And dead. Riddled by woodpeckers.

This was bad news. It was leaning towards the house. One good windstorm and it could come down and do a lot of damage.

I had to take care of it.

But how? It was just me today. And the tree was really really big. A mankiller. Easily twenty inches in diameter.

First, I dug out the chainsaw. Then, I found a hank of rope in the garage and fetched a ladder. I got up as far as I could and tied off the rope on The Tree. Then, I stretched the rope taught, and tied the rope off to a live tree standing about twenty feet away. Again, getting as high up as I could.

I started in chopping with the ax. Then, I started in with the chainsaw, making wide wedges in the sides of the tree at right angles to where it wanted to fall, towards the house. When I heard the first loud crack of the wood giving way, I backed off.

I went to where the rope was tied off to the live tree, climbed the ladder, and pulled on the rope till my feet were on the ground. I started rhythmicallly pulling on the rope, then releasing, pulling, then releasing, pulling, then releasing. I got The Tree rocking in a wide, slow arc, along a line that was perpendicular to the house.

It was dangerous. If that tree fell on me, I was a goner.

And it was hard work, too. It took all my might to get the tree bending in the direction I wanted it to bend.

And then, it bent, I heard a crack like a rifle shot of the heartwood giving way, and down it came, with a huge crash, and hitting with a thud that shook the ground.

I gave a war whoop and shouted, "Timberrrr!"

My father, watching all of this from the house (with the phone near at hand to call 911 if need be), called congratulations.

I did it. I brought down The Tree.

It's too big to cut up, so I'll have to just let it lie there, growing a skin of mushrooms and rotting.

And then I went back to cutting up all the lumber I hauled out of the woods.

Y'know, was the day when I would be home on a trip from the Big City, and spend an afternoon cutting up firewood. It felt so good to do real work, work that didn't invovle squinting into a a computer screen, tapping away at a keyboard, and pushing a pencil. Now, I am grateful to say, I do 'real work' all week long. I am a Man Who Works With Tools.


Life is pretty sweet.

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