We call it Chainsaw Therapy. It doesn't matter what is bothering you, after a few minutes cutting up tree limbs, your perspective changes. Anger subsides. Worry decreases. And the sawdust that gets in your eyes is a small price to pay for the opportunity to play with such danger.
A recent Saturday began with a lawn full of leaves. It took 3 passes over the lawn to mulch and bag the leaves. I don't even know how many times we had to stop to unclog the mower blade, but let's just say it wasn't anyone's idea of a great time. It is really cool, however, to live in a community that picks up yardwaste and composts it for the community. My tree leaves will become mulch that will be used throughout city parks, medians, and people's gardens.
Then we decided to take advantage of the house next door being unoccupied and remove one of our tree limbs that had been hanging over the neighbor's house. Dale, who is very smart and can pretty much tell exactly where a tree limb is going to fall, climbed the tree with his trusty saw. Spencer, who loves danger, was in charge of pulling the limb down with the rope to keep the limb from damaging the neighbors' house. We forgot to mention we didn't want to damage the neighbors' fence. Oops. (We fixed it the following weekend.)
We then decided to tackle the limb that hung over our roof from the neighbors' tree (same empty house). Again, Dale scaled the tree, saw in hand. Again, Spencer manned the rope. When the tree let go of the limb, I breathed a sigh of relief. No people or vehicles were harmed in the felling of that limb. Because it didn't actually fall. There was just a little scrap of wood keeping the limb from fully disconnecting from the tree. Dale cut that. It disconnected, And it came within 18 inches of taking out the front of my van. (This picture is Dale, Calder, and Spencer pretending to be impressed with their tree skills.) Needless to say, there was plenty of wood for Chainsaw Therapy. There was plenty of wood for the fire pit. There will be plenty of wood for the fire pit for some time.
We went on to clean glutters, unhook hoses from faucets for the winter, and I tried to get the crew to hang Christmas lights. Not so much. The bags and twigs don't even begin to reflect the amount of work we did that day. Or how sore my muscles were. Or how much work we need to do in the backyard. And garage. And pretty much every room in the house. But it was a good day, and no one was hurt. Not even my car.
So as another day of Chainsaw Therapy and family togetherness came to a close, I had two thoughts:
1. If that limb had hit my van, what kind of insurance nightmare would that have been?
2. How is it that I get to have such an amazing life?
If you were to drive down my street at the height of summer, you would be amazed at the canopy of shade provided by the numerous, very large trees on both sides of the street. I've never counted them, nor do I know all the different kinds of trees represented, but they really are a welcome respite from the hot summer sun.
When the sun takes a more autumnal path, the trees seem to have an agreement to drop their leaves in a very strategic manner. I don't know when they plan their assault. I don't know how they plot against those of us who love them (maybe the trees are just perpetually teenagers). I do know this: The trees seem to be winning.
There are the early leaf droppers. They lull their caretakers into false senses of security by doing their business and making their people think that leaf-raking is a one weekend job. Though they are the first to give up the fight, do not underestimate them. Their leaves may hit the ground first, but those yellow symbols of futility will still be around after the last yard waste bag has been picked up by the recycling truck.
The showy leaf droppers are impressive in their ability to cover a parked car in leaves in less than a day. These are the leaves you find in that space between the windshield and the hood and ground into the carpet of your car. These leaves are everywhere, and they seem to come in an endless stream. Fourteen bags of leaves this weekend? You will have 16 next weekend and at least 20 the following. These leaves will not be around forever. It will just seem like they are.
My favorite leaf dropper, my favorite tree (with the exception of the orange tree that my parents had in California and any tree in the Sequoia/Yosemite areas) is in my front yard. Though it went through a difficult limbectomy a few years before we moved here, it is still, to me, the most beautiful tree on the street. It stays green longer. It is a late leaf dropper. And it drops the most beautiful leaves of red, green, and orange I've ever seen. Sometimes, I sit and look out my front window and just watch that tree. Even the way the leaves fall seems to say "We are special. Watch us as we dance our way to the ground. And, as a bonus, we can even make your dogs bark as they watch from the window inside your home." (These leaves are quite chatty.)
Is it not just one of the coolest things that our world is full of color? Flowers, trees, birds, fish, sunsets, people. God could have made our world monochromatic. I'm very glad He chose not to. Look at the world around you and try to imagine what it would be like without color.
I'm sure that's what I will be doing for at least the next few weekends as we continue this battle of the leaves. Eventually, the leaves will stop falling. Eventually, we WILL get them bagged and sent to the recycling center. Eventually, my tree will no longer display its beauty in such rich colors and will take a season of rest before beginning the cycle all over again. And during that time, when the grass is brown and the trees are bare, I will probably paint my living room. Did I mention I like color?