Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Adventures in forestry

A few weeks ago, my wife and I finally got the time and inclination concurrently to do something that has needed doing for quite some time: clear out some trees on our property that are either in the way or present a danger. There was one that was dead but still sound, and there were two rotten ones.

After having a fair amount of ease with these (my wife didn't have any idea of my expertise with a chainsaw, I suppose!), we decided to go up onto the bluff right behind our house and take down some small ones that were growing right on the edge.

I did the proper things, you know. For instance, I tied a guide rope to the tree, and ran it around another tree, so my wife could pull on the rope without being in danger of the tree falling toward her. I notched the tree deeply in the exact direction I wanted it to fall. I then started cutting on the other side of the tree trunk.

When I was almost through the tree, it began to creak and fall. The problem was, it wasn't doing what it was supposed to do!! Instead of falling in the direction of the notch, and the direction of the guide rope, it was falling right toward my wife!

Remember, this tree was right on the edge of a little bluff. I looked up. I saw it falling in the wrong direction. My mind didn't register that the tree was falling at an extremely slow speed. I shouted, quickly stood upright... and stepped right over the edge of the bluff, with a running chainsaw in my hand.

(Here is where you are supposed to go "Oh my God!" and clap your hand over your mouth or something like that.)

I feel about 5 feet and bounced off the wall of the bluff, using my shoulder and elbow as a pivot point. Then I fell another five feet onto my buttocks, and rolled over into a position on my knees... with the still running chainsaw held as far away from my body as possible!

The thought running through my mind as I fell? Well, it honestly was, "Oh, good grief, I'm going to fall on the raspberries!" We had planted raspberries on that slope, and I didn't want to crush them, I guess. I missed hitting an upright, 2-foot-tall wooden stake by about six inches.

Lara came running over to the edge of the bluff, unharmed by the falling tree, and looked down in horror. I was on my knees, with my hands outstretched, saying, "I'm OK, I'm OK!"

Suffice to say, I was very sore that night, and for a couple of days afterward. I lost some skin on my right elbow, and still have some residual soreness, but other than that I'm in remarkably good shape for what happened.

I really gave Lara, and I suppose my guardian angel, quite a fright. Thankfully they were both on the job.

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