White Pine Down

When we first moved into the RR HQ complex several years ago, one feature we enjoyed the most about our Back 40 was the eight story white pine that towered majestically over the neighborhood. Unfortunately, ice storms during the last few winters broke off the lower branches, rendering this once-regal tree into a toothpick with a sail. Its days were clearly numbered- the tree was going to come down soon, either by chainsaw or by wind. And by wind would almost certainly crush our abode or our neighbors.

So we called the local tree service and initiated euthanasia. The owner looked up and purveyed the enormity of the situation: "This is too tall for my bucket truck" he said, "I'm going to have to call my monkey boy."

His monkey boy arrived and we asked how many trees of this height he's cut down. "Millions. Dude, I've been doing this for twelve years." Allrighty then! Fire up the Husquevarna!

The monkey boy scramb-led up the trunk quicker than a fox squirrel and began the surgical cutting of smaller branches to get to bigger branches. How these guys don't cut their safety lines or get tangled in rope systems or have a massive branch twist and slam into them is a credit to their skillset. We're continuously amazed at professionals with jobs that straddle the razor's edge between accomplishment and failure on a daily basis- heart surgeons, state troopers, airline pilots, and yes, monkey boys.

He loped off the top and descended from his high perch. One of his co-workers cut the pine at the base and it fell with a loud thud that shook the house. The trunk indented a deep groove into the wet ground that will have to be filled in with a load of dirt. The tree, which once produced both admiration and fear, had been felled. Summertime views of our world from the back porch will never be the same. Over the last several years, we've cut down three dead ash trees and a dying pear tree. Our yard, once a haven for birds and sheltered from neighbors we don't know, is now an open expanse.

The skidder came and lifted the cut pieces into a utility truck. After the stump grinder comes and pulverizes the only remaining sign that a 100 year old white pine (the state tree of Michigan!) once stood here, nothing will remain but a pile of mulch. We will miss our white pine- except when the strong winds sough across Portage Lake.

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