By Venice Bayrd 24 Nov 2004
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.