All this last month, which has been beautifully cool and dry, I’ve been sitting on my hands, waiting for Mr. Excavator. I couldn’t cut down trees because Mr. E #1 said oh, no, don’t cut them down, its easier to push them over with the bucket. Mr. E. #2 or #6 or whatever said, oh yes, cut those trees down, so that I can just stack ’em up over there for you. Now that its 90 degrees out, it turns out its #6 who’s doing the job, so out I go to sweat it out with my friends Mr. Stihl Chainsaw and Mr. Husquevarna Chainsaw (you will understand shortly how it is that I know that my chainsaws are males….).
My friend Brother Mike, who is a 74 year-old Jesuit brother volunteered to come along, and I gladly accepted his offer. He’s a flowing font of hilarous stories from his days in Zambia (ask him about the time he drove a convoy to South Africa to buy some new vehicles, and had to bluff his way through all the checkpoints. Or the time he organized a yoga class for the embassy wives, which was followed by cocktail hour. I still think he’s not telling the whole of that story.), and always helpful and cheerful, as so many Jesuits are. At least the brothers are. The priests can be a little more challenging.
Anyway, I was busily cutting down trees in the heat when Mike showed up. Of course he parked his pick up right in the anticipated path of the tree I was just about to drop, so I waited for him to move. And waited. He had to put on his overalls. He had to find his cigarettes. He had to fill up on water. Finally I just turned off the saw and sat down. By the time he got his pick up moved, and got into position to help push over the tree, Mr. Husky had cooled to that magical temperature at which it will not start for love nor money. I yanked on it and yanked on it, and Mike took a coaching role, telling me to choke it, not choke it, stop on second, pull harder, and etc., which was not doing much for me, frankly. He offered to let me use his saw, which was equally annoying, since, as I pointed out to him in a tone that left no room for speculation about my opinion on the matter, I paid $400 bucks for a chainsaw, it should *&!#$ start! I gave up, and tried starting Mr. Stihl, and the whole scenario was repeated.
Once the floodgates of cursing let those first few curses out, the cataract that followed was irrepressable. I was actually aware that saying Jxxx *&(*%^$! Chxxxx!!!~! before a very religious man, whose religion specifies that taking the Lord’s name in vain is a Sin with a capital S was not reflective of one of my finer moments, but once again, the first small references to holy defilement only encouraged more to slip out. Have you ever been really, really mad, and, suffering from idiocy, committing some stupid act like punching a wall or kicking a lamp post, and there is still a little part of your mind that realizes that this is stupid, that swearing, punching, kicking or whatever has no efficacy whatsoever, but you just. can’t. stop. ? Well, that’s what happened to me.
Lucky for me I was also vaguely aware that Mike, having spent umpteen years in the wilds of Africa, hob-nobbing with smugglers and embassy wives, has certainly heard worse. Eventually the saw started, and we got down to work. I was excessively proud of myself for dropping the trees exactly where I wanted them to drop, which I’m rarely able to do when I’m out cutting firewood. It isn’t unusal for me to snag every single tree I cut down in a firewood cutting session. This time, not only did they fall the way I wanted them to, but they fell in a neat row! Except for the last one. Much like the answer to the question “why is the item you are looking for always in the last place you look?”, the answer to the question “why is the most difficult tree to fell the last one?”, is obvious.
The last tree was pretty big and heavy, and just as I was making the back cut a gust of wind (or Saint Oofta) snuck up on me and pushed the tree onto Mr. Husky and pinched it. With a dead tree, you can often push it far enough in the direction it doesn’t want to fall to get the saw out, but with this live tree, there was no way. We had to finish cutting on the opposite side, and tip the tree over the saw. Poor Mr. Husky’s bar was so squished the chain no longer slides through it. He had to go to the hospital.