Living in the northern part of the country, just about five hundred miles south of Canada, we have quite different markers for spring’s arrival than, say, down in Texas or Alabama. Azaleas are nowhere to be found this time of year, except in a florist’s shop.
Instead, we celebrate the arrival of the first fat robin of spring pulling worms out of the front lawn. The first bluebird warbling by the nest box. The first time we can open the windows of the house and not worry that we’re heating the great outdoors. The first crocus, presaging the later joyous arrival of daffodils and tulips. The first day warm enough, dry enough, and devoid of snow and ice enough to go out and pick up those dog doots in the yard deposited too far afield to even think about disposal when it was twenty below zero!
For me, there all that and one more, just in very recent years. And that would be the first time in spring that I have to break out my battery-powered itty bitty chain saw and use it because I have to. Judged by that measure, spring arrived a few days ago in the form of yet another dead tree that crashed down across the hiking path cut through the woods and fields around my property. For some reason, a lot of the “trash trees” have died in the past few years, and they stand, smooth-trunked and leafless, waiting for gravity, or ice, or a wind storm, or some combination of the three. to finally tip them over.
I found the latest casualty on a sunny, warm day that was perfect for hiking. I set off, in sneakers and a good mood, to stretch my legs and put on a couple of miles in the great outdoors, scaring up wild turkeys and looking for deer. About a block and a half down the way, I saw that the path was completely blocked by a large dead tree that had given up the ghost and found its final resting place right in my way. There was no getting around it–limbs were entangled in other broken trees around it, and there was enough brush on either side of the trunk that there was no other way through.
I gave up the idea of a relaxing walk and went back to the house. Changed from sweats and sneakers to jeans and leather boots, and grabbed the chainsaw, the extra rechargable batteries, and my lilac-colored heavy suede work gloves. (While the saw only came in Black & Decker’s signature orange and black colors, there’s no reason to stick with that for the accessories!)
By now I’m familiar enough with the basic process that it no longer feels like rocket science…or at least a foray into “the man zone.” Though my introduction came only a couple of years ago, in “Chain Reaction”. Rules are pretty simple for this job–keep a steady footing, give the chain some oil once in a while, wear protective eyewear, make sure there’s nothing nearby that could catch and fly up at you unexpectedly while you’re cutting. With a chainsaw that’s not much bigger than a kitchen blender, I know my limitations. Anything bigger than four inches in diameter will be left for the man in my life with the man-sized tools!
Still, there’s a nice feeling of triumph to clearing the hiking path again, and starting to build a nice pile of firewood for next winter. These trees may not be hardwoods…but they burn just fine in my living room fireplace all the same. And having stood upright, dead and drying out in the wind and sun for at least a couple of years before cutting, they’re “match ready” from the get-go.
I went back this morning with fresh batteries and finished up the job, taking down a few more broken branchs from the trees around it and adding a few more logs to the firewood pile. I took a look at the finished project before I headed back to the house. It was a good, warm feeling of accomplishment, of a job well done.
Until the next tree comes down!