|August 31, 2018
Hello again Maple People,
In a recent column I said I was hangin’ up the Husky…well I lied! As fate would have it (more more aptly, winter survival), I’ve spent the summer so far buzzin’ up a storm on two trees. Yes, two huge rock maple trees have occupied this ol’guy’s spare time for the whole summer of 2018 and will supply our complete heating needs for this coming winter. Here’s the story:
Every time we had a wind storm, limbs would fall from those big trees in our yard, a true indication that they were nearing the end of their lives. Luckily neither Betsy or I ever lost a windshield or worse, our lives, but our luck’s been pushed for a few years. The only problem, besides the fact we considered them part of the family, was that our woodshed stood right in the way. I had a tree service come up to look at cutting them from the top down but their quote made my farmer instinct kick in quicker’n a tree falls in the woods: Since the woodshed’s getting dilapidated, it made perfect sense to that farmer instinct to simply take it away, and that’s just what I did…a quick zipping off of four mostly rotted support posts followed by a ride on our farm bucket loader. Now that woodshed resides safely in another location.
Then I hired my Jack-of-all-trees buddy Paul Cate to come down and fell my old friends because even with the now clear path for both to fall, they both needed to be “persuaded” a bit…falling the wrong way would have wiped out either my house or the power lines. Paul, sixty eight years old with failing eyesight, is not only tremendous with a chainsaw in his hands but he’s also seasoned way up in the treetops. He picked a northward path to fell the first one which necessitated cutting some limbs thirty feet up and fastening a cable. This he did with the dexterity of a monkey, a monkey carrying a chainsaw and wearing a well stocked tool belt. At the other end of the cable would be my brother Tick with his tractor and winch.
When it was finally time to fell the monolith, Paul buzzed on the bottom, stopping occasionally to insert and tap in plastic wedges. These he knew would help, but the real persuasion would come through a signal to Tick for a perfectly-timed pull from his winch. When the time came, Paul made his signal, the winch strained mightily and, like the final labored thrust in an arm wrestling match, down it came. Paul was able to fell the second tree with the aid of just wedges, occasional hammer whacks, and expert strategy.
Once down, the two ancient hulks lay silent, awaiting my summer-long “fitness” session buzzing, bucking, and busting off chunk after chunk. The stacking, though, was my true joy…in this old guy’s humble opinion, there’s no greater beauty in this world than a well stacked woodpile. It stands as both a true memorial to long lives departed and an aid to future survival…RIP old friends and thanks for the warmth!