Thursday, April 2, 2015

Just Down the Road From Hooterville

There was a pruning workshop at our local greenhouse last weekend and Dean suggested I go along with him so I could learn a better way to cut back the chokecherry forest trying to take over the yard.  I agreed it was probably a good idea since randomly hacking at them with big scary shears while I yell “die you chokecherry bush” or “you’re outa here sucker!” hasn’t really been very effective.   Thankfully Unfortunately I came down with a head cold the day before the workshop (which is what I get for mentioning one too many times that I haven’t been sick since our last trip to Ecuador almost 2 ½ years ago) so I got to had to miss that stimulating lecture.

What?  Doesn't everybody wear Christmas socks and sandals when they're sick?
It might have been better if Dean had missed it.  When he got home he was obsessed with the two huge cottonwood trees in our yard.  He took me outside and told me they’d never been properly maintained.  He swept his hand up and around.  See?  They should only have three main limbs and this one has way too many.  And theyre shooting out to the side, not straight up like they should be.  And look at the other tree.  It’s not as bad but it still has too many limbs and those limbs are growing out, not up.  And look at all those dead branches.  They need to go.

Oh, it’s not like he hadn’t been out there trimming trees already.   And it’s been a good thing because the more dead wood he’s cut out of those cottonwoods, the fewer little branches and twigs I’ve had to rake up off the ground – which seems to be my obsession.  But after this pruning workshop he came home determined that something had to be done before those two big trees fell on the house and garage.  The longer he looked at the trees the more convinced he became we needed to have them cut down.  All I saw was money pouring out of our savings account into two big holes in the ground where trees used to stand.  I mentally tried to calculate if the value of the firewood they would provide would offset the cost of cutting them down.  And that’s when I made my mistake.

Why don’t we just cut as many of the limbs off as we can ourselves, and then we can get a bid to remove the trees, only we’ll leave the trunks and you can carve them?  That should reduce the cost, don’t you think?  It wasn’t long before Dean was decked out in his coveralls, safety glasses, boots and earphones and he was up on a ladder with his chain saw.

“If you want to help, you could drag the branches off,” he told me.  If I wasn’t so dang obsessed with a twig-free lawn I would have played the head-cold card.  But instead, my chest slathered in Vicks and my head filled with snot, I filled my pockets with Kleenex and started hauling.

Our very own slash pile.

I knew we were in trouble when I saw him standing on his ladder eyeing one big branch that reached over the garage roof.  It’s going to fall on the garage if you cut it!!  Insurance doesn’t pay for stupidity!  He acted like he couldn’t hear me through his headphones but I knew he could, because earlier when I’d asked the boys, in a in a normal conversational voice, “which of you dug this hole in the pen?” Dean had lifted his earphones and said, “what?”

Yes.  You see two dogs.  That's another story for another post.

He cut the branch partway and then tied a rope to it and handed the end of it to me and told me to “hold it tight.”

In his infinite wisdom he must have thought I would be able to guide the branch away from the garage as it came crashing down once he finished sawing.  It didn’t work.

After he nonchalantly pointed out to me that he could easily pound out the dent in the roof, he moved on to the second cottonwood.  The house and garage were safe from any branches falling from this tree but that didn’t mean it was without its pruning challenges.  At one point Dean’s eyes were bigger than his toy chain saw.  

He told me he’d need to finish sawing the branch with a hand saw.  I pictured him walking back with a hand saw.  You know.  The kind you hold in your hand.  With no power cord attached. 

I didn’t even waste my breath expressing my opinion this time.  I just counted his fingers and watched for spurting blood as the tree branch fell very nicely ...

... and settled snugly into the V of another tree.

Dean stared at it for a while and then decided the two of us could just pull it out.  But the vaporub had cleared my head by that time and my brain was functioning, so I suggested he hook a chain to the ol’ John Deere instead.

When he finally decided he’d cut every branch within his reach I swear I saw the cottonwood branches sag in relief.  But, if I was a chokecherry, I’d be nervous.  As we were picking up the tools and cleaning up the branches, I saw him staring intently at them, gently stroking his chainsaw.

The end.



Corner Gardener Sue said...

Oh, my! You are having some adventures! I love what I could see of your house, and the garage. I'm glad it is intact.

Art Elser said...

I have just one simple question. Why in the world didn't you do your usual baking gig and feed cookies to the tree bee? Glad all the limbs coming down were cottonwood limbs and not spurting human ones.