Thursday, April 5, 2018
After death a little beauty
I was on my walking commute to work. I had hit the river path and was, predictably, late. So when I saw two arborists cutting down a pine tree in the front yard of a river road home I knew that I should just keep going. But they were so close. One man had a rope tied halfway up the tree and angled to pull along the path the pine could safely fall. The other man was holding a chainsaw and scrutinizing the thick trunk. The crown of the tree had been cut off already so that the remainder would safely fit on the ground. There was still roughly 30 feet left to come down. The tree did not look sick, but it had been planted so close to the house that it was leaning awkwardly away from it. Maybe it was starting to cause structural problems for the lovely old house. Maybe they were both causing structural problems for each other.
I knew I should walk on, but I was almost there. I wanted to see the big tree fall. So I stood where I was, a couple hundred feet away, and watched. A notch was cut out of the to-be-falling side of the pine. Then mysterious slices were cut in the back side. Every time a cut was made the man with the saw would look and assess and make a plan. Finally enough was done for his satisfaction. He called to the rope man to apply the tension. He went in, all tenativity gone, and with his chainsaw he cut, and cut deeper. Slowly, slowly the tree started to spill, at first barely, then, compellingly, with the rate of its falling doubling in every tenth of a second.
It wumphed into the ground, softly and yet with strength and weight and power and the chorus sound of the splintering of hundreds of small branches. And it was over.
The big tree lay there, dead. I stood looking on for a few seconds longer, a length of time at the speed of scent. And then I was flooded with the deep, clean, beautiful smell of pine.