I liked the TV commercial with the tag line “life comes at you fast,” but did it have to be a dead pine tree lying across the neighbor’s driveway on New Year’s Eve?
He came to my door at 4 p.m. with the news, leaving barely an hour of cruddy daylight to work in if my chain saw would start.
Coincidentally, I’d given this tree a skeptical look only the day before, wondering then how long it could withstand the extreme angle of lean, and (no kidding) who would be on the hook to remove it after its fall. The neighbor had a surveyor put up posts last year delineating the property boundary, which was just this side of the tree, but my fence was just that side, so flip a coin.
What a mess. The pine had broken off about fifteen feet above the ground, heaving the bulk of its stout trunk inconveniently upon the gravel, with a tangle of slick, mossy branches over all. After a quick walk-around to assess my options, I started cutting. Whacking off limbs (the tree variety) in fading light while a light rain mist (the forecaster’s term) soaks you is an excellent way to usher in a new year (or kick the old one out), by the way. And you know what? I liked it.
It was a problem that required decisive-yet-careful action, and as it promised at least the faint hope of a successful conclusion I kept sawing until the twinkling Christmas lights around the little valley came on and it was time to quit. When the neighbor returned a short while later his headlights revealed that most of the tree was cut up and out of the way, and he again had access to his house.
I came back to my house with his sincere Thank You, put the saw away, showered, ate dinner, and was soundly sleeping when 2010 slipped into the neighborhood.
Epilogue: Next week the neighbor’s hiring a tree service to cut up and remove the debris: my association with the problem pine has ended. All I’ll have to do is remove a couple of uprooted fence posts and twists of barbed wire, which I’ll be doing just as soon as my back recovers.