Thursday, February 04, 2010

Cutting down trees in the rain

A bunch of guys arrived this morning while I was out walking and spent the rest of the day at our house cutting down trees in the rain. Three trees actually. Plus, they trimmed off excess branches from other trees and performed major surgery on a very sick (well, dying) tree.

I kept watching them off and on all day. Cutting trees is dangerous. They climb up and throw ropes over the branches that get cut first and tie ropes from neighboring trees to hold and direct the falling branches and chunks. As they fall they swing crazily and crash into trunks and other branches. And all the time the rain is steadily coming down. This is not serious logging but it made me think of Sometimes a Great Notion and crazy men who wield chainsaws with one hand while hanging off the sides of great trees.

The significance of this tree cutting is that we are clearing a spot on which to build the studio and greenhouse. This is part of the "grand scheme" of moving out here and remodeling that didn't happen on schedule because the stupid economy tanked and the stupid stock market plummeted and the stupid real estate market crashed and the old house didn't sell and we stupidly got caught in the middle of a stupid mess. (Am I bitter? Trying hard not to be. Could be worse, I keep telling myself.) Anyway, we viewed it not as a cancellation, just a deferral and now I think we are cautiously ready to get started on this next project. The trees were the first step.

So, as long as this crew was coming to take out those three trees we had them trim up some of the other trees and then there was that bad tree next to the creek that was looking mostly dead and the tree guy said was probably going to cause some problems if not addressed. He said it was likely to "take out your nice little bridge one of these days." That didn't sound so good. The final decision was not to cut it down, but to remove the bad top and leave the trunk and some of the intact limbs for bird habitat. You can see it in the last picture with the top cut off. I asked the guy what will happen to it now and he said, "oh, it will fall down someday." Then when he saw my alarm he added, " a long, long time from now."

Late in the afternoon as they were hauling all the fallen branches out to the street to toss into the chipper, the rain stopped and the sun came pouring in through the front window. The light has changed. I walked out to see how it all looked—trees cut into sections and piled into three neat piles, a light coating of sawdust covers the muddy ground. As they climbed into their huge truck I heard one of them say, "Well, that was a good day." Then he gestured toward a scrawny Ash tree that grows up through the power lines. "They shoulda' had us take that one down too."


  1. I think the added light will be worth all the stupid things that happened. Not to mention, a studio of your own?? How exciting! Are you going to wrap the greenhouse around your studio so you have unlimited daylight?

  2. Probably sort of sad to see those big trees go -- but how EXCITING to see step #1 of your studio build taking place! That is HUGE! Will you have a grand opening celebration and invite 11 of your creative friends to come and break it in with you?! I'm THERE!!!

  3. I need to call the tree guys...

  4. My son used to do this before he got into landscaping. The workmen's comp is very very expensive for the owner of the company. The firm he worked for was called Major Deadwood!

  5. Congratulations on moving forward toward a new studio. I totally understand your views on all the STUPID stuff - we're in the same boat.

  6. Terry, We just did the same thing last month. 18 trees from our property after living here for 7 years and kicking them every time I went outside. I now have space and sunlight for a garden and can't wait to get these hands dirty in the spring! I was in my basement studio when some of them fell and was reminded quite vividly of the '89 earthquake in San Francisco... it felt quite the same...

  7. Terry, who were your tree cutters? We have a pear that we hired some slash and chopper to get off the roof. I can hardly stand the way they butchered it. The tree might have to come down, but it gives the apartment dwellers next door some greenery and me a bit of protection for peering eyes through the high windows. And it's a pear tree, which I like and which keeps me company when it rains pears.

    Anyway, I'm thinking I need a real horticultural sort of logger rather than the slash and butcher type. They took the stuff off the roof, but really mangled the tree in doing so.

    by the way, I'm happy to see you are busy with such wonderful projects. You can't complain of feeling uncreative, for sure!