Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Thinking of taking the plunge and getting me my first chainsaw. I’ve never seen myself as a chainsaw man. More an orchard saw kind of man, simple, hands-on. The kind of man who’ll gladly cut off a two-inch diameter branch but who wants to think long and hard before going at something as substantial as a limb.
But here on the property — a quarter acre of sloping oak land — I find that the humble orchard saw literally ain’t cutting it. The oaks are wide and aggressive. They impinge on young pines and try to take them into rough bear hugs with their burly arms, and I see this and say to myself (because the wife doesn’t want to hear it) that if I had me a chainsaw, why, I could just lop off that limb and spare the pine that suffocating, shady embrace of the oak. Why, I could even get up on a small ladder and thin that thing out a little bit, let it breathe. I can envision myself with my macho Stihl in hand, yanking it into its growly idle, then ramping it on up to DESTROY. Watchin’ the chips a’flyin’. Feelin’ my forearms buzzin’ as they guide the undeniable blade through that woody bone like it was made of nothin’ but smoke.
And there’d the wife be, screaming for me to get down from there before I hurt myself. You said you’d stay on the ground and not try to get the higher stuff! Remember what happened to your father?
And I would bring the Stihl back into idle and think for a minute. I’d remember what happened to my father, one Super Bowl Sunday, when he thought he’d do a little chainsawin’ at halftime. He found himself climbing up into the crotch of an oak, just like many of my trees, hauling his own snarling Stihl with him into the crown, trying to reach one-handed toward the base of a particularly galling limb, then slipping enough that the saw came back on him and grabbed a quarter-pounder out of his thigh. There was copious bleeding, and even though he didn’t think the gash was bad enough for stitches, he started feeling lightheaded and thought he’d better have the wife drive him into town to have it looked at. Missed the second half of the Super Bowl. Came home with twenty stitches, by the way, and a short course of Vicodin.
It’s risky, sure, but I think of the chainsaw as a rite of passage. I’m approaching the age of 60 without having owned a chainsaw, and I don’t think I can stand the thought of dying with that on the books. The wife says I might die because of a chainsaw, but I think the worst that can happen is a semi-amusing Super Bowl story.
My own chainsaw. A fairly easy thing to knock off the old bucket list.