By BEN R. WILLIAMS
As I’ve mentioned in this space before, I live down a long gravel road that people love to drive on despite the seven “NO TRESPASSING” signs and the overall creepy backwoodsman vibe I’ve worked hard to cultivate.
I love living out in the woods. I love all the birds and deer and bugs. I love that I will never have to interact with a Homeowner’s Association, the most evil organization outside of SPECTRE. To paraphrase Warren Zevon, I love the splendid isolation.
But there is a downside.
Naturally, there are a whole lot of trees lining the road. And every year, I can count on five to ten of them falling across it.
“Of course,” you’re thinking. “I’m sure heavy winds and ice storms knock down trees all the time.”
Ho ho ho! I WISH the trees would fall because of ice or wind! I could actually plan for that! No, these trees fall for one reason and one reason alone:
Pure, unadulterated spite.
As I mentioned in a column awhile back, a tree once fell across the road on the day I was meeting a guy who was buying a pinball machine from me. He was a tough-as-nails Navy veteran and he sat and watched as I cut the tree up with a splitting maul, which rendered me too weak to cut a pizza later that evening.
After that incident, I decided to buy a chainsaw.
On the advice of a friend, I ended up purchasing a Stihl MSA 140C, which is a small-ish electric chainsaw powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. People make fun of my electric chainsaw — I’ve been asked if it causes sawdust to blow up my dress — but I’m here to tell you, it’s a little bulldog. I’ve cut up a whole lot of trees with it, and the battery lasts much longer than I expected it to. To be clear, I’m not saying all of this to shill for Stihl, but if they want to send me a check and/or several of their high-quality products in exchange for my testimony, I’m more than happy to promote all of Stihl’s wonderful products, which are built and quality-tested right here in America.
Anyway, I had a big event at work this past Saturday, so I got up early, took a nice hot shower, packed my lunch, and hopped in the car, feeling hale and hearty and ready to greet the new day.
You have perhaps intuited where this story is going.
Yes, the trees knew I had a busy day planned, and so they sent their emissary: a large poplar that had snapped off about six feet up from the base and was laying across the road.
It’s important to note that there had been no significant weather in days, and this poplar was not dead; if anything, it appeared pretty healthy. There was absolutely no reason for it fall over other than sheer malice.
Once I saw it, I raced back to the house to grab my trusty chainsaw.
While the Stihl battery-powered chainsaw is a reliable piece of equipment (send check to Ben R. Williams C/O Henry County Enterprise), it does have one minor flaw: it requires the user to remember to charge it. And I had not charged it since the time I used it the week prior to cut up a tree that fell in almost exactly the same spot, blocking the electrician who was coming up to my house.
With half a charge, I started to work on the tree, cutting it into the largest sections I felt I was strong enough to move. The temperature, of course, was about 90 degrees, and the humidity was somewhere around 270 percent. I hunched over the tree, the saw running full tilt, sawdust blowing all over my once-clean pants, my shirt glued to me with sweat.
After about twenty minutes, the saw slowed to a stop. Lifting with my spine, I rolled the segments of the tree off the road.
All, that is, but one: a huge piece of the trunk with no handholds, weighing perhaps 450 pounds.
No matter how I shoved, the trunk refused to roll. In a moment of inspiration, I grabbed an old ratchet strap out of the back of my SUV, knotted it around the trunk, hooked it to my front tow hook, and threw my vehicle into reverse.
I dragged the tree off the road, leaving only a pile of sawdust in my wake.
After that, I was ready to head to my long day of interacting with the public, covered in sawdust, sweat, ticks, and probably a couple tree frogs.
While I may have won that battle, I have a delivery I’m looking forward to coming later this week and no rain or wind is projected in the forecast. I fear for the worst.