The thunderstorm that roared through town huffed and puffed and blew out our power, and in the process, brought down a tree that it dumped across our driveway.
With my husband’s encouragement, and my goggles in place, I fired up the yellow monster (thanks to Sid) and went at it. The first tree I tackled was a boxelder (a form of maple) and a delight to cut. Not as smooth as I imagine some wood is, but smooth enough to seduce a novice into believing this was something she could do. And enjoy.
So for the next hour, I sliced up the tree and cleared the way to join our motorized world. But there was also an enormous limb that came down from the tree on the other side of the driveway. And it was a beech. And as I have learned in the context of woodcutting: beech is b**ch. Dense and hard (and excellent for firewood!), it fought the chainsaw, arresting its progress midway through its heartwood. I had to stop and approach it from the other side, whittling it away from the ends.
This outing taught me several things. For one, I learned the limits of my saw and the awesome power of wood. When pitted against the might of my trees, my 14-inch blade was really more of a toy than a tool. But it is handy - and dangerous - enough to continue to hold my deepest respect.
And I learned the limits of my knowledge - like needing to figure out how one cuts up a limb whose lower end has come to rest on the ground while its upper end is still connected to the tree. (The problem: the more you cut, the tighter the space gets, til it eventually squeezes and seizes the blade. Or else something gives rather suddenly.)
A visitor told me earlier in the day about her experience learning how to fell a young tree. (It took about five minutes to bring it down.) Working so intimately with trees, she said, gives you an appreciation of their grandeur, practical beauty, sturdy resistance as well as fragility. They become characters, partners, in our world of creation.
I have never felled a healthy tree and can only imagine the mixed feelings it brings of triumph and loss. My chain saw helps me manage downed and dead wood. The feelings working that wood are much less complex.
After an hour today, I could see the result of my work, point to my progress, and get my car to the street. Sweet satisfaction.