Bloodied, but not beaten

With warmer temperatures after a winter that has been too long and too cold, I’ve finally begun to remove remnants of the large maple that toppled over in December’s ice storm. The top branches that crushed an old ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud were removed within a few days of the storm, but the shattered trunk arched to rest against another smaller maple so that the removal was more complicated.Maple damaged in ice storm

As I began the project on yesterday’s warm afternoon, I pondered more than once how to cut the awkwardly balanced trunk so that it did not crush the camellias and Oakleaf hydrangeas that barely escaped damage two months’ earlier. As an afterthought, there was some small consideration that I should avoid being crushed once the mammoth trunk was cut loose, but I judge myself as fairly capable at judging these matters, so I was mostly unconcerned.

As planned, the trunk was cut near its base, and as the angled cut was made the tree slowly leaned in the anticipated direction. But, not enough. The smaller maple held firmly, and I determined that a bit of muscle would be necessary to tip the balance to free the large maple to fall. Now, I became slightly more concerned that to apply the proper force I must be on the downhill side, where the full weight of the tree could cause considerable harm if I miscalculated.

Still, it seemed likely that once the larger maple was dislodged from the branch on the small tree, the massive trunk would slide harmlessly to the ground. The projected angle of descent was close, but I figured it would barely miss the Oakleaf hydrangea and nearby camellia, and then the trunk could be cut into smaller pieces. And, for the most part this is what happened. I rocked the suspended trunk once, then again, it bounced slightly and then free from the obstruction on the smaller maple.Red maple damaged by ice storm

Except. As the trunk slammed into the moist ground it buried deeper than I anticipated, and the branch that I figured would be too tall to worry about landed a blow to my forehead. Suddenly, there was blood. Everywhere.

In fact, the gash was not too horrible, but my wife (the nurse) determined that it required stitches. At the hairline I figured that a scar would only add character as my hairline recedes, but I was overruled and a quick trip to the emergency room removed embedded splinters and closed the wound.

Today, I’m back to working on the tree, unwilling to accept that this project is too difficult to handle on my own. Temperatures are not so warm, but the sun’s shining, and once this tree is out of the way I’ll be free to move on to the serious clean up of the garden that is an annual rite of spring. No doubt some readers might agree with my wife that I should have hired out this task, but it should be no surprise that I would do it all again. Except, next time I’d duck.

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