Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In the epic battle between me, the chainsaw, and the fallen (oak) tree, the best I can call it is a three-way draw.

Yeah, it's a long title, but the story's worth it (at least I think).  24 hours ago I had this great thought that I'd just describe each scene and let your imagination fill in the gaps.  That was 24 hours and a friend's FB note using the exact same device ago.  blargh.

Now that Babble McBabblepants is satisfied, I'll proceed.

I've been trying to sell a piece of land that we (Missy and I) own for the last three years.  It's a novel, more or less, but suffice it to say it hasn't sold.  Bummer.  Then about two weeks ago some strong storms blew a tree over the entrance to the property.  Nothing like "sorry, you can't see the property due to a massive wooden blockade" to encourage a sale, so I asked around and borrowed a chainsaw from a local friend.  So far so good.

So Monday night I decide I'm going to take the time freed by the end of Jonah's swimming lessons and the forcible ousting from our home by Missy's acting class to deal with 'the situation'.  Well, the situation started to deal with me.

We arrived around 6:15 and I give the kids their ground rules (no death, blood, or wandering about) and proceed to start the chainsaw.  I figured, I'd give it a few good yanks (choke, who needs choke?) and I'd be on my merry limb-chopping way.  I figured I'd rip through the branches in no time and we'd celebrate my victory with copious amounts of iced confection.  Problem #1: by 'finicky', the owners of this nearly-new chainsaw actually meant 'doesn't start'.  I'm sweating profusely ("Daddy, there's water dripping on my head!") and there's not so much as a cough from this fine 18" destroyer of trees.  Cue the 3 year-old birthday girl, "I need to go to the potty!"

In case you haven't noticed, I'm male.  I pee in the woods.  I don't find it difficult.  My little princess, however, found this concept rather distasteful.  She promised she'd let me know when she REALLY had to go and I continued with my divinely ordained mission (yanking uselessly on the starter rope).

Cue the neighbors.  Now, don't get me wrong - the neighbors are nice people.  They are just a combination of the neighborhood watch and the mob.  I'm pretty sure one guy might be the godfather.  I don't think a squirrel pees on this road without him knowing about it.  So here I am, yanking to the point of blistering and sweating like a faucet, and he's watching from the top of the hill.  He makes small talk, I return it, he calmly walks back to his house and leaves me to my punishment for not selling this land when I had the chance (with the house I sold to his daughter).

I continue yanking.

Have I mentioned that I've never used a chainsaw before.  Ever.

Jonah (my 6 year old son) comes running down the hill (He and Maeryn had been playing in the car), yelling that Maeryn is naked.  Perfect.  Not only has she has an accident while playing in the car, she has now removed her soiled garments and is parading about the inside of the car in nothing but her shirt.  I redress her and continue yanking.

If this seems like a lot of yanking, you're right.  It was a long time.  A. Very. Long. Time.  Then somehow, magically, between multiple trips up the hill to make sure my children were neither driving off with my car nor setting up a internationally smuggling ring, a single sputter.  I must admit that this sound was like the cannons firing at the end of the 1812 overture.  Brilliance.  A minute or two later, I had this gleaming machine ready to destroy the villainous monster that lay bared before me.  I was armed.  I was ready.  I pulled the throttle all the way open and lay the spinning chain to the exposed flesh of the wooden monster.  Instant chainsaw death.   Restart.  1/4". Death.  Repeat.  Problem #2.

As I repeat this religious process, I begin to notice that the chainsaw is gaining strength with each restart.  Soon I don't need to restart the engine; I'm making it an entire 1/2" before I have to disengage.  I begin to smell the saw dust, the odor of a soon-to-be defeated enemy.  Oak.  Crap.  I've worked with oak before and I know it's a tough little bugger.  After about 6 more days, I've made it through my first branch.  I say branch because it's only about 8" thick.  The trunk is more like 20", but I've got momentum on my side.

With each passing minute, my confidence and the chainsaw's power grows.  I'm a cutting machine.  I'm a lumberjack, a real american hero, a... crack!...  and the log of which only a moment ago I was conquerer has turned the tide.  My saw is jammed inside a nearly cut log and will not come out.  More sweating ensues.  Levers with children on them, with me on them, with me and the children on them, with children falling off them (and much crying and begging to calm down so as to not bring social services).  Finally I approach a neighbor calmly smoking a cigarette and ask for an axe.

The axe does it's work and as I was standing on top of the log as it finally split, I feel like a conquerer again.  Right up until I burn my hand on the muffler and have to ask for help in getting the chain back on.

I continue my quest, slicing and heaving as darkness settles.  I'm only trying to get a path cut so hoards of potential buys might flow like water onto the fertile fields of my property and offer me uncut diamonds for the use of it.  I complete my quest and begin the final walk through of this glorious, not even close to straight but completely navigable path, trimming a few stray branches here and there and tossing small branches to the side as if preparing the way for Christ.  At a narrow spot, I decide my last act of vengeance will be to widen the path with the shortening of one jagged outcropping.   About 3 inches in, the saw sputters and dies.  Restart.  dies again.  out. of. gas.

This must be where I decided good enough was good enough and I packed up.  Kids in the car (no, we cannot bring the neighbor's toys home with us), no really, kids in the car (Maeryn, please go get the tricycle from the middle of the road.  The one in the middle of the road.  That one!).

Bruised and somewhat battered (I'm actually quite sore), the somewhat victorious father, his pantsless daughter, and his dreadlocked son under a completely dark sky make their way to the local ice cream place for some much needed refreshment.

Tales of valor and conquest are narrated to the wife and mother (complete with Maeryn acting out the social services worthy tumble from the branch/lever), and we all went to bed.  It was actually a really fun night.

P.S.  For all the trouble the chainsaw gave me, I've now bonded with it and am keeping it until I can go back and widen the opening enough to get a vehicle down there to drag out the old fence and other trash.  That may be it's own epic blog entry, but for now, I bid you farewell.

Babble McBabblepants has now left the building.  Thanks for reading.