Monday, February 15, 2010

The Price of Procrastination

Eastern white pine hit by lightning 23 years a...

It seems we're finally due for some snow in my neck of the woods. Up until now, we've enjoyed a reprieve from a typical Maine winter, apart from the fact that it's been cold. But not that cold -- not the kind of wind-whipping, face-freezing, temperatures dropping off the base of the thermometer cold that, by spring, we're eager to see off at the bus stop. Just ordinary, put on your coat and gloves before you go outside, cold.

Anyway, having heard bad weather was looming, I decided to stop procrastinating about cutting down one or two of the standing dead white pines at the edge of the forest -- this was yesterday afternoon, shortly before sundown. I got out the chain saw, picked the one I thought most likely to fall easily, and went to work. I got through the trunk, stood back, and nothing. It stood there staring at me as if to say, "What? Did you think I wouldn't get caught in the other trees? Puhleeze."

At first I stared back, thinking it might concede defeat, and go on its own. No such luck. Then I leaned on it and it broke away, falling with a whump! trunk-down onto a patch of thick ice, as if it had grown there, its top still mired in limbs of a live neighbor. I couldn't believe it. A sit-com couldn't have arranged it better. For a minute, I considered leaving it for a breeze to finish off, but what if it came down during the night and took the power lines with it?

So, I caved in, cut another section and the scenario repeated itself. Mumbling to myself about this being like the second line in a joke -- the first sets up the story, the second builds tension, and the final one releases it -- I attached a rope to the tree, wrapped it around another for leverage and pulled. All that did was make my tree sway along with its captor and make me wish I'd never gotten started in the first place. Sigh, the price of procrastination, you know?

Finally, I made one more cut -- what harm could it do -- pushed again, and this time things came together. I was so relieved watching it fall I allowed myself to shout Timber! even though I was the only one around to hear. By now it was getting dark, I was tired, and further efforts seemed likely to result in my getting hurt, so I left sectioning the tree until this afternoon. That portion of my project was also work and when the top once again became entrapped, this time in the undergrowth, I thought about letting it go for all of two seconds. Then I said, "No -- I've worked hard for this tree and by golly I'm getting the whole thing!"

And I did. And now it's warm and snug in the barn. And I'm happy.

Creative Commons image of Eastern White Pine by musseyrobert via Flickr)
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