Monday, April 24, 2006

Season’s First Tree Climb

I meditatively stand in the upper reaches of a deciduous tree, trying to figure out how to dislodge a piece of cedar tree from it.

On Saturday I went to Mutsu to help cut down a couple of cedar trees that were blocking sunlight from the gardens surrounding the church cemetery (consisting of one shared mausoleum). Originally the pastor and I thought that we would be facing the project alone, and my role was to climb up the bigger cedar and tie a rope around the upper trunk so that we could guide it to fall in the right direction. However, when we arrived at the cemetery we were met by a friend of the church who had brought along a couple of retired lumberjacks belonging to his family. They looked frail and aged but, respecting their professional lumberjack demeanours, we stood aside and let them at it. I will kick myself a thousand times for not photographing the wizened old 73 year-old leisurely walking up the tree trunk using just his hands and a couple of spikes strapped to the bottom of his boots, with the coil of rope dangling from his shoulder. Being a purist, I had planned to slither up the tree trunk hand over hand, relying only on my upper body strength, the sparsely scattered half inch twigs growing out of knots in the trunk, and body traction. I would not have looked nearly as smooth or professional as he did. I began to worry that perhaps my presence there that day was altogether unnecessary, but my moment of glory came when the old gentlemen miscalculated and sent the larger of the two cedar trees crashing into a deciduous tree on the other side of the garden. The top broke off in two large pieces and lodged firmly in the other tree’s forked trunk. This posed a problem for the old guys since spikes don’t work so well on hard wood and the broken pieces of cedar formed a formidable obstacle. Deciduous trees are my specialty, so this was my moment. My winter-weakened skin suffered some terrible scrapes and scratches from the cedar branches, but my tree-climber’s honour was at stake, and pushed my way to the top and, with much effort, wrenched free the cedar tops and flung them to the ground.

This is the deciduous tree after I freed it from the wreckage of the cedar tree. Observe the disgruntled crow.

When the sun rose that morning, the crow’s nest was nestled securely in the lofty boughs of the tall cedar tree. By mid afternoon it lay abandoned on the ground beside the felled tree. Notice the coat hanger. At least three coat hangers had been used in the construction of the nest.

The Wrathful Raven Sinisterly Sits Above the Tomb Posts of the Neighbouring Tenrikyou Graveyard