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Do-it-yourself lumbering
is not for the faint of heart.
Do-it-yourself lumbering
is not for the faint of heart.

“Good Job!”

430 words


If you cut down one tree perfectly, you still are not an expert
by Dianne Roth


Two misshapen juniper trees had to come out and we are do-it-yourselfers. What could go wrong? (I call those FLWs; Famous Last Words.)

My son brought his chain saw. My house was west, the trees had to fall east. We looked up and down, here and there. One of us probably raised a moist finger to check the wind. We loved the drama of it.

I bet him I could pinpoint just where the tip of the tree would fall. He laughed and I marched away from the tree, stopping several times to bend over, looking between my legs until I could see the top of the tree. I placed a marker stick at the exact spot. It was the way of the Native Peoples. He rolled his eyes.

He aimed and started the saw. Within minutes he had the wedge cut and was sawing in behind. The tree wavered and began to fall. His aim was perfect and the tip of that juniper landed on the very spot I marked.

We laughed, high-fived, and patted each other on the back. We wore our arrogance proudly. We were good!

The second tree was leaning a bit toward my house, but hey..., no worry! We were good!

I "measured" where the tip would land. He rolled his eyes a second time, but I could tell it was an obligatory roll. We were having a grand time.

The wedge was made. But, as he began to cut, it was clear we were in trouble. The tree had been growing among the branches of a huge Port Orford cedar for years and had only managed grow its own branches on the side facing the house. The cedar was gone, but the weight of the branches and the reaching for sunshine had caused the trunk to lean.

I drove “the Mule”, around. We tied a thick rope between the tree and the truck. I tightened the rope and kept a hair-trigger foot on the clutch. He cut a fraction at a time. I kept the rope taut.

It was slow, harrowing. The tree wrestled the rope. It was determined to fall in the direction of nature’s call. Its fight was slow. My son ran. I gunned the engine. Pulled by the rope, the tree began its horizontal swing. It seemed like hours as it floated reluctantly away from my house. It was a dance I viewed through the windshield of “the Mule”.

It landed safely, yards from my marker.

We held each other for a long time. “Good job!” we breathed.


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on October 8, 2012