Travel

The Flying Tree Dance

Removing a tree from the yard is always a painful decision. I’ve cut down a few trees over the years, and a part of me is cut out with every one of them. But sometimes they have to go. And I had a clump of them that were ready to go wedged in a tight cluster with trees I wanted to keep. Well above my skill set to cut these down, I delayed for years until now. But it was finally time.

A giant crane, a bucket truck and a third truck towing a wood chipper arrived and their drivers started positioning them for the tasks they each performed. First in was the bucket truck, limbing up a large oak that would be in the way of the crane. This was opportunistic work, as the neighbor wanted that tree limbed up anyway, and so they negotiated a separate deal to get it done. Capitalism on the fly.

Next came the big event. The crane was extended, chain saws were readied, men positioned in familiar roles. The most notable was the man who would fly. Clearly the most fun job of all, and the most dangerous. He harnessed up, attached himself to the crane cable, and slowly flew into the air with his chain saw and rappelling gear. He would wrap a strap around the tree trunk of choice, secure his rappel rope and lower himself down to the ground. He then cut the base of the tree as the crane held it up, clear out of the way, and it was time for the tree to sky dance. If I were a tree and it was my last day on earth, I might choose one final pirouette across the sky as this tree took.

But then the performance was over, the tree laid across the driveway, and the second act began. a second cable was secured halfway up the trunk and the tree was now hanging from two cables. A few branches were trimmed away, and then the machinery took over. I realized what was about to happen and put my fingers into my ears. The cables and men fed the entire tree, trunk first, into the wood chipper. The chipper roared its horrific roar, and the tree flew in chips into the truck bed to live its second life as mulch. A second flight for the tree, not quite as grand as the first.

This performance continued for the morning and early afternoon and then the machines and men and mulch drove away, leaving empty sky and stories. Some of the felled trees remained, to serve as firewood in a season or two. Then they too will fly as well, as smoke and a pagan tribute to their final day.

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