My two sons have the unique ability to over complicate any task presented to them. Case in point: there has been a sizable birch tree in residence in my front yard for many years now. It has been slowly dying from the top. The sons heard that I wanted it removed and volunteered to do the job for me. Such was their enthusiasm for the work that they even pitched in together and bought an axe as a Father’s Day gift for me. It really is a beautiful tool and I am lucky to have gotten it. Upon its presentation, they announced that, as a further gift to me, they would remove the tree. This they did just today. I was surprised at their eagerness for the task. These two strapping young men of 17 and 23 attacked the tree with a vengeance. I was pretty much sidelined on this project but did manage to get in a few quips regarding safety. Now, there was a problem with making sure it fell in the right direction. This was an issue that the two of them discussed at great length. The plan of action was to cut a wedge on the side where they desired it to fall then finish from the other side. The younger of the two began to work with several mighty swings from the brand new axe. They switched the hacking job between them so each one got an even amount of “destruction time.” I was assigned the task of holding the rope that they had strung around the upper part of the tree. I was further instructed to pull the tree toward me as I felt it give way under the ministrations of the axe.
The tree came away pretty easily and the two congratulated themselves on their lumber jacking prowess. It was only left to police up the branches and cut the tree trunk into suitable logs for firewood. This is where things got strange. I guess it was their desire to find the absolute hardest means by which to disassemble the tree that finally did them in. Deciding they had had enough of the axe, it was then determined to continue the cutting with a pruning saw. That seemed to go well until they just about had the first log cut off. Now their male instincts took over and they announced that they wanted to kick the log loose from the trunk. The tree, even in death, proved their better. I sat down in the shade to watch this contest of wills between sons and tree. They tried every trick they could imagine to kick this one piece of log off the trunk. They put another log under it to make a fulcrum. The elder got on one end and the younger jumped on the other end. The attempt resulted only in catapulting the elder son a few feet into the air. They stood it up on end and kicked it, kung fu style. They picked it up and dropped it at every imaginable angle. On each occasion, the trunk was equal to the task. I took score from my place in the shade. I lost count at tree 10 and sons 1. Completely soaked in sweat, they finally broke the one log lose from the trunk. With still three more cuts to make to finish the log off, they decided it was near on to dinner and the job could be safely postponed to another time.
The beautiful axe, my Father’s Day present, has been returned to the shed. I am making a very educated guess that it will be sometime before it gets used again. Then again, there is the very tall, very unwanted willow tree in the back yard….