I had a “Class Reunion” meeting on Friday night and then something else suddenly came up, so I had no choice but to call The Motel and find out if my mother could open for a last minute reservation. She was accommodating and my father picked up one of the extension phones and said “you can help us take down a couple of trees over at Jim’s on Saturday morning.”
Once or twice in high school, I helped the Baumer lumberjacks saw wood, but my brother was generally the one who would be called on for this duty. My experiences have mostly consisted of helping my father throw in the winter fuel and stack it in the basement.
There is something magical about watching Herman the German and Uncle Bob size up a tree for its demise; there is a lot of looking up with sun-shielded eyes and walking around. Not much is said. Uncle Bob chews on a piece of grass.
A decision is made. The saw starts.
The tree is dangerously close to the power line. Uncle Bob shouts “hold it.” The saw stops. Tense moments follow and Uncle Bob uses a wedge to correct a slip of the silent saw.
“There she goes.”
Whoosh. The tree falls.
The saws start up again and limbs are cut; I’m called to the less glamorous work of clearing the brush. My father and Uncle Bob cut the tree into stove lengths and make saw splits in the logs. Between dragging brush, I practice splitting the logs with a wedge and a maul. I swing the maul like a girl, but I get it done.
Today, I’m tired. I’m a little embarrassed, too, at how these old gentlemen can wield heavy chainsaws around like fly swatters. They act like it’s nothing.
Maybe it’s no coincidence that the German translation for “tree” is “baum.”
I’m grateful to be a branch of that Baum.