The art of tree trimming
For those of you who may not know, Johnny Ray is a touch accident prone. He’s been bucked off horses, fallen off tractors, stung in the eyeball by a wasp and was once chased by an aggressive firecracker. He has broken almost all of his ribs, cut off his own finger and always sports some sort of scab or oozing wound, thanks to his aversion to wearing gloves. If Daddy isn’t bleeding, he’s probably asleep.
Based on this information, you can imagine my trepidation when he announced this weekend that he would be trimming some trees around the property. He waltzed up the driveway with his new toy in hand. He yanked the box open, without reading any directions, and produced a piece of equipment that terrified me to my bones. It was basically a weed eater with a chainsaw one the end.
This should be fun.
Mama prefers to take cover when situations like these arise. She knows Daddy’s beloved dog Doc will come and get her if something REALLY bad happens. She’s lived with the man for almost 50 years clinging to the motto, “What I don’t know won’t hurt me.”
I took a different tactic. I decided that I was going to be Daddy’s protector. No one needs to see his leg halfway sawed off. Let the record show that even if that did happen, he’d argue with the person who found him that HE would be the one driving himself to the emergency room. Or he’d try to convince himself that it was just a scratch. Clearly someone needs to be the voice of reason as he wields the electric weapon. It might as well be me. Of course, I have to be really smooth about it. He can’t know that I’m watching him. Here’s how it went down:
Daddy fills the tree trimmer with oil. Since he refuses to get eye glasses, he pours way too much into the tiny hole and the liquid spills everywhere. Naturally, the dog wanders up to lick the contents. Figuring this will poison the dog, I quickly mop up the oil. You’re welcome, Doc. Daddy scavenges for an extension cord. Or five.
Once all the cords have been plugged-in together, he meanders into the yard, carefully selecting his first conquest. I jog up beside him to assess the tree. The pesky limb that is bothering my father is way out of reach. I suggest we start with a bush or something closer to the ground. He looks at me like I’m an idiot. The smart thing to do is fetch the ladder because our first foray into the superfluous branch business should include holding a large, top-heavy piece of cutting machinery while balancing on a ladder. Brilliant.
Daddy hands me the tree trimmer while he finagles the ladder up next to the trunk. My confidence deflates when I notice that the ladder is covered in duct tape. Lord help us. He scrambles up the ladder about halfway and barks for me to pass him his stick of death. I hoist it above my head into his open hands. Then I grab the ladder to support my 220-pound father who is currently placing the tree trimmer against a limb directly above his head.
Me: “Um, Daddy? Maybe we should move the ladder. Won’t the branch fall on your head when you cut it? And shouldn’t I get you some goggles since the saw dust will be falling directly into your eyes? I’d kind of like to protect my own eyes, too. And my own head. Daddy?”
He didn’t hear me due to the very loud tree trimmer and falling branch that landed on both of our heads.
Daddy stumbles down the ladder, practically blind from all the wood remnants in his eyeballs, with a huge smile on his face. Oh boy. This might be his new favorite pastime next to setting fire to things.
He hands me the trimmer and we move on to the next tree. At this point, my sister, brother-in-law and niece have all gathered on the back porch to watch the festivities. I guarantee you they were taking bets to see who bled first. They start catcalling when Daddy ascends the ladder for a second time. We repeat the same steps of the first tree (read: zero safety precaution), except this time Daddy has used so much muscle to cut the way bigger branch that when it finally breaks, the tree trimmer swings down from the force. I had to jump out of the way.
Daddy: “Oh sorry. Did I get you?”
I was reminded of that time on Friends when Joey builds the entertainment unit and almost drills into Chandler’s head.
Did you “get me?” It’s a SAW. If you get me, you kill me!
My family celebrates from the porch. Hooray for living through that experience! Three cheers for Lincee!
We trimmed several trees that afternoon. At one point, I grabbed the branch wacker to see what all the fuss was about. I cut a few limbs and felt…the…power. It was glorious. When Daddy suggested I stand on the picnic table (because the duct taped ladder was waaaaayyyyy over there) to finish the job, it just made sense. I was a trimming machine.
At one point the tree trimmer stopped working and we couldn’t figure out why. I ran back to the house and noticed that the extension cord was unplugged. I took a quick peek at my father, who was examining the chain with his fingers. I trotted back over to him to explain that I found the problem. I shuttered as I thought about what would have happened had Daddy been the one to locate the unplugged cord. He would have popped that sucker back in without a thought in the world and I would be typing this sentence with my toes.
Two hours later, I walked in the house trailing saw dust with each step. I took great pride in sharing our adventure with Mama, quick to point out that no one was hurt in the trimming of any trees. Except for those scratches on my torso I received when fighting a branch above a inconveniently placed rose bush. I will not be wearing belly shirts any time soon.
Mama just smiled as Daddy began to pour gasoline over a huge pile of branches.
Lord, protect the pyromaniac. I’m out.