June 27, 2013

I Saw a Saw

It’s said “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Which is one of the reasons I don’t own a chainsaw.

That’s not to say I don’t NEED a chainsaw on occasion, but the very idea of having one just lying around, tempting me, is antithetical to the very idea of a civilized society. Seriously, if I even realized for an instant there’s a chainsaw somewhere in the house, chances are excellent I’d try using it to cut bacon slices in half. Or to stir soup. Or to brush my teeth. You’d be amazed at the uses I could come up with for a chainsaw, if had access to one.

So, I don’t own a chainsaw. It’s just. . . better. . . this way, for the world in general.

But, I do own an axe—which is supremely dangerous in its own way when wielded by my hands—because there are times when I really just have to chop some wood. Sometimes, wood just needs a good chopping.

And, sometimes, a tree needs a good chopping. Rather, sometimes a tree needs to be removed and, lacking a chainsaw, an axe is my only alternative. Such was the case about a week ago when I finally confronted an old, mostly-dead birch tree that had been taunting me for the last few years. Each year, it died a little more, leaving huge, leafless limbs to wave their lifeless branches at me in a sort of timber-skeletal middle finger. Finally, I decided that timeless timber insult just couldn’t be allowed to stand, so I shouldered my axe and sauntered into the yard to wage battle against the birch.

By the way, you should ALWAYS saunter up to a tree you intend to cut down. Otherwise, the tree simply won’t take you seriously. My preferred sauntering method involves holding one shoulder slightly higher than the other, like a supremely indifferent, John Wayne-ish shrug.

And I started chopping that birch beast. And, it WAS a beast. I really had no idea just how much of a beast that birch was until I’d been chopping at its base for 45 minutes and I reached the conclusion “THIS BIRCH IS A BEAST!” I’d only managed to hack my way through about a quarter of that beastly birch, and my hands already sported beastly birch blisters.

As I was huffing, and puffing, and considering whether a semi-chopped, mostly-dead birch tree was, in fact, an alluring component to any yard, a man drove up in a pick-up truck, rustled around in the back, and drew forth a chainsaw encased in a protective plastic shell. I can’t be sure, but as he walked towards me, I could have sworn the clouds broke, a ray of sunshine fell upon the chainsaw, and there was the faint sound of angels singing.

The good Samaritan neighbor unsheathed his chainsaw and he achieved in just a few minutes what I had cleared most of my 2014 calendar to accomplish.

I would have been supremely happy if the neighbor had simply stopped at cutting down the birch tree, but then he proceeded to embark on a process that reminded me why, exactly, I can’t be trusted with a chainsaw. I mean, it became quite clear that the neighbor wasn’t just interested in being a helpful passer-by. Rather, he really, really, REALLY liked using his chainsaw. After cutting down the birch tree, he began dicing the vanquished tree into bits so small, my two-year-old daughter could have eaten them. The neighbor went after the fallen birch with such reckless chainsaw abandon, I was left wondering if maybe a birch tree somehow scarred him at some point during his youth and he was taking out years of frustrated vengeance upon the defenseless downed husk in front of him.

That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate his timely chainsaw assistance, but I stood there considering maybe I was witnessing something that should otherwise have been a private encounter between the neighbor and the birch; as if perhaps it would have been fortuitous had a psychiatrist driven by and dragged a couch out for the neighbor to lay upon for a nice round of psychoanalysis.

Whether the neighbor finally worked out his latent hostilities, or his chainsaw just plain ran out of gas, I can’t be sure, but eventually the saw’s incessant screech halted and the neighbor stood there, looking proudly over his handiwork as if he had single-handedly brought down a mammoth and dragged it back to his cave.

As I watched the neighbor sheath his chainsaw back in its protective plastic case, and then saunter—YES, HE SAUNTERED—back to his pick-up, I was left with one, unrelenting thought:

“Man, I really want a chainsaw!”

Posted by Ryan at June 27, 2013 09:17 PM | TrackBack

Yes, you need a chainsaw. Cutting down a tree with an ax is like making butter with a wooden paddle. Doable, but way more work than it needs to be.

Posted by: Keith at June 28, 2013 11:03 AM

Either you need a chainsaw, or to sharpen your axe once in a while. :^)

(cue Franklin Covey advertisement....)

You've got good neighbors, though.

Posted by: Bike Bubba at July 2, 2013 02:40 PM
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