the trees here are really something else. parts of the woods here give new meaning to cathedral, and when the fog rolls in over the lowlands on a misty night the scenery is perfectly creepy. being around the massive tulip trees and oaks has rekindled a long-standing interest in arboriculture, and to my great delight, i finally met an arborist willing to show me the ropes. (pun intended.)
enter last sunday: my first day in training. basically this involved ground work in all its various forms, but with perks. sure there was some clearing of detritus and hand-saw type removal of lower branches, but there was also fun with a chainsaw. i'd never used a chainsaw before, but sunday was a day of firsts. stumps require a great deal more skill and subtlty than logs, i discovered, but chainsaws are really just satisfying tools. i also have to admit a strange sense of pleasure associated with the scent of mixed gasoline, which i smelled like for the rest of the day, and that may have had something to do with said satisfaction.
after the chainsaw came knot tying. the clove hitch, the slip clove hitch, the bowline, the monkey's fist, the "if you can't tie a knot, tie a lot" school of thinking--the list is endless. and the fun you can have with knots! picture a 20 foot tall rotten tree hull. picture tying a rope around it, and then around another tree 30 feet away, and holding tension on the rope while the guy who knows what he's doing with the chainsaw goes and cuts just enough of the tree so that you can then with some effort pull it over in the direction you want it to fall. lots of noise, yes, and splintering tree bits everywhere. and there's so much more about knots--the physics in rope tying, mnemonics with the rabbit in the hole running around the tree...
...but then there's tree climbing. this was the highlight of the day, bar none. it's hard to beat chainsaws and splintering trees, but playing tarzan was bliss. climbing the branchless split trunk of a 15 foot diameter tree was not quite bliss, but the effort really was half the fun. the climbing part deserves description simply because it involved caribiners, a harness, and lots of neat bits. and knots. ascending a tree using a harness involves essentially "sitting" as if a chair were placed horizontally out from the trunk and then thrusting the hips up in what is supposed to be a series of fluid motions while continuously sliding a holding knot up a standing rope. if one is not strong enough to hold onto the upper ropes however, one does not feel very fluid because stopping every five thrusts to rest tired arms is a hindrance. to climb roughly 20 feet in the air ended up being a fair amount of effort, but it was so worth it to swing from one trunk to a branch on the other trunk. the best though was letting go completely and swinging out from the trunk like a monkey on a vine. it's always a good idea to have someone holding the other end of the rope at this point, however. otherwise you smash into the trunk, no thanks to gravity. fortunately that didn't happen, and as i sat there suspended and swinging, the (absence of thought)/bliss was really remarkable.
reading back through the archives, i'm really glad to see the log of posts hovering around the intuition/sensibility theme...it's kind of like discovering (for myself) other people's joy. well, some of it anyway.
...was me for a span of time earlier today. at least in the following respect:
after tea in the sun on the back porch this morning i decided that it would be worthwhile to scope out -dead to fall-'s list of tour dates, if any. i really wasn't expecting much. i was both pleased and frustrated however to find that not only were they playing pennsylvania, Lemoyne to be exact, they were playing this very day. 'where is lemoyne?' and 'how the hell am i going to get there?' simultaneously coursed through my head. i'll spare you the detail here and just say that a little creative problem solving can go a long way. (anyone who's ever lived in a quasi-rural area without a car and without public transport in the near vicinity will understand the quandary...) after jumping a few fences and passing a fair amount of time traveling i finally found myself in a rental car and on my way to the lemoyne area of harrisburg (about 2hrs away).
this was all well and good except for the fact that it had taken so long to pull everything together that it was now 6:30, the time the doors were scheduled to open. i didn't care. i felt so ingenious for procuring myself a car without having to bike 30 miles that i was full of hope right up to my eyebrows. really though, knowing the way these shows typically work, i figured that the opening bands would be taking up my travel time and that hopefully i'd arrive before dead to fall took stage. luck and traffic were on my side i guess, because i arrived at 8:30 just as the penultimate band took stage. i never really caught their name, but they were decent. i guess it was their last show though.
here i should take a moment to describe the venue and the crowd. considering how high on my inspirational listening list -dtf- is right now, i was expecting beatific crowds just dying to see them. instead i found the champion ship venue (located next to machine head tattoos,) barely alive with a very young group of what appeared to be mostly hardcore kids. i thought maybe the masses were just waiting somewhere else before crawling out of the woodwork, but no, that was just all there was when dtf took stage.
and just one more side note about the crowd. i guess i haven't been to many hardcore shows, but this was one of the more curious groups i've yet seen. the mosh pit was less like a pit than a line dance. people had their own little spaces where they kicked the shit out of the air, but that heavy-hitting contact that's so lovely and quintessentially mosh-like was totally lacking. it was odd.
the place itself was brick on one side and concrete block on the other. after getting slammed into the wall at one point i decided that the show venue of the future commune should maybe go more for the psycho-ward look instead of the garage feel. you know what commune i mean.
and then...the show began. they started off with torn self off the new album, and led into master exploder. i think. well, here's what i remember anyhow: tu se morte, gates of hell, a cover of something (fire of the soul? fire and ice? i didn't recognize it); and then closed with villainy and virtue off the new album. the set was only a half-hour, which was disappointing, but they were really fantastic. words are lacking here. at a few points the crowd rushed the stage, and the total lack of security allowed several people to jump up on the stage, grab the lead singer, and sing along. several others joined in, pig-piling on top of each other in front of the stage like mad. a couple of kids did running jumps onto the backs of the others, it was nuts. and everyone sang along.
and then it was over and i was sad. but as i was driving back two things happened/occurred/were noticed. 1st: listening to opeth on the way back through lancaster county, i heard the following words: "follow your instincts, they usually take you home;" and i thought, yeah, that really cinches it. 2nd: before finishing this thought, looking out the driver side window i saw what i thought at first were just some odd-looking city lights. here's where the lancaster county ref. is relevant: lancaster opens up into huge wide fields with a correspondingly huge sky. the street lights kept getting in my way, but finally i had to pull over outside of town because i realized that yes, those lights were still there and the city wasn't. it really was the northern lights! i was psyched. the crystalline shard characteristic is one of my favorite points, and the way they shift. a couple must've been at just the right angle, because they shot halfway up to cassiopeia. but anyhow, to finish that thought, it just kinda came together for me in that moment that throwing sensibility to the wind and instinctually and methodically pursuing last minute chances is where i live most happily. home.