Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Had to drop an old tree today that had died over the winter. I looked out our kitchen window a week ago and noticed, in the foreground of our lush acreage, a lone biddy, naked from the trunk up.
We're not sure how old the tree was. We inherited it with the mortgage, along with the pond, the two-and-a-half acres of forest, the rock wall borders and the leaky leech bed.
The tree, looking down the property toward the east, stood to the southerly side, 50 yards from the pond, 20 or so yards from the south wall, and a million or so leaves from being a sapling.
We wonder the story of her; did she have a stiff upbringing? Was she tall for her age? What was her favorite autumn color? Did she have any friends, like the blossoming apple tree up the hill? Certainly not the thicket of snobbish firs out past the pond.
My father helped, bringing with him his oily, toothy chainsaw. He angled out a thick slice of the trunk first, laboring mightily. To and fro, slicing the spinning chain through and out and through again. The saw screamed and sputtered, kicked and growled. The tree stood.
Dad went 'round the other side and cut a thin line with the saw, deep, and we then took turns hammering a wedge into the slit as a way of encouraging her topple.
A bigger saw was then employed, six inches longer and fatter and meaner. Dad sliced deeper still, pulling the saw back and forth, revving the engine, backing off, plunging it further still.
I had an up-slope view of the trunk and could see daylight through the cut on one side and the pizza-slice wedge missing on the other. In the dead middle, an inch of wood kept the whole lady upright, an aging ballerina on point.
We drove a thicker wedge into the slit and both of us in turn pounded it deeper and deeper, and slowly we began to hear cracking, as if the knuckles of her toes were popping.
A breeze came down from the west, over the top of the house, across the upper lawn and nudged her upper branches.
And then, gracefully, she tipped over and landed with a remarkable softness across our lower lawn. Pointing north by northeast, branches straight upward like a diver's arms.
Now, she lay across the lawn, and from the deck of our house, the property seems out of balance. Where a pillar once stood we now find clear blue sky, while below, old biddy finally rests.