April 5, 2011

Fallen tree
Photo by Jim Ruen
It’s a sweet reward when a tree I’m cutting down falls the way I want it to.

It must be spring! Over the weekend, I donned protective gear—my heavy-duty boots, chainsaw chaps and helmet with face guard and hearing protectors—and got busy sawing. Two large trees needed to come down. My wife and I prefer to leave dead trees in the woods to the bugs and woodpeckers. However, around the house and paths, I prefer taking a tree rather than have it take me as I walk by. 

The first tree to fall was an oak, the dead half of a twin that had been looking more dangerous with each passing year. There was a narrow alley for it to fall without damaging other trees, a stack of firewood or a near by garden shed.

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I made the prerequisite cuts, taking out a wedge in the direction I wanted it to go and then over cutting the missing wedge from the opposite side of the trunk, leaving a sheaf of fiber for a hinge.

There is always a moment when the tree begins to shift and time stops. I killed the chainsaw, knowing there was nothing more I could do but get well out of the way. Slowly the trunk tipped, picked up speed and crashed to the ground … right where I wanted it. Oh, how sweet it is when all goes according to plan.

The second tree was a 40-foot basswood snag, a victim of a lightning strike that took its top. Like the first, it too laid down exactly where I had hoped, just to the backside of a garden bed. Having pulled and pushed more logs into place than I care to recall, to have it fall so perfectly was truly a delight and a great way to begin my spring tasks.

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