Meeting with the Tree Trimmer

The river level is still high after weeks of rain, including Friday’s record rainfall.

Monday, December 23, 2019

I met Nathan out at River Song at 10:00 a.m. It had been a hard morning for me. Yesterday’s work really wore me out, making it difficult to sleep. I’d been really grumpy when I got up and yelled at my cat, Pepper Dog, to quit pestering me. But, I made it.

Nathan had already been out here once, but he wanted to walk the property with me. Winter break was the perfect opportunity.

We discussed my plans, while he looked over my trees. He said the fallen alder wouldn’t be too much of an issue. He has a pole chainsaw he could use to cut the vine maples, which would drop the tree into the river. That sounded like a good solution.

We looked at the limbs on my big cedar. He recommended trimming them up to about 15 feet, which is about what I had been thinking. I couldn’t help but think how close that tree is to the edge of that sheer bluff as he talked about climbing it. OMG! I could never do that! Which is why I’m hiring a professional, right?

Nathan pointed out the different types of trees. I knew the cedars as these are easily recognizable, but I was unfamiliar with the others. The trees I thought were birch or alder saplings are actually vine maples. The big leaning deciduous trees are alders. I wasn’t really sure what they were. And then he pointed out a couple of spruce trees I hadn’t noticed. I’m not sure why I never noticed them before as they are both pretty massive. So, I have four types of trees: western red cedars, red alders, Sitka spruce, and vine maples. Good to know!

He also said alders always lean and it wasn’t something to be worried about, as long as the trees were alive and healthy. My concern had been the roots of the trees and whether they were sufficient to hold as the trees got bigger. When I was removing some vine maples a few weeks back, I noticed their roots don’t go very deep; they kind of wind around just under the surface, rather than dig deep. Since I thought the vine maples were saplings of the larger alders, I was afraid the alders’ roots would be too shallow, making them susceptible to falling, as were the vine maples. Whew! I don’t have to worry about this!

We walked to the north end to take a look at the fallen cedar. It must have fallen pretty recently because the wood is still in excellent condition and some of the branches are still alive. It’s a shame to just throw that beautiful wood away. We talked about how I could use it, but unfortunately, I really just don’t have any way to deal with it. The wood is heavy, and I don’t have anyone to help me with the work I’m doing out here. In the end, we decided he would cut it into about six-foot lengths and let it lay where it falls. I think I can handle logs this size. If nothing else, once it’s cut into smaller lengths, it would be safer for me to handle, and I can either buy or rent a bigger chainsaw and cut it up, if needed.

As for the rest of the trees, Nathan said he really needed to look at them during spring or summer to check their health. For now, the two cedars are my biggest issues; anything else can wait, so that sounds fine. Nathan said he would email me an estimate for the work we had talked about.

After he left, I tackled that big brush pile I’d built a few weeks back when clearing out the deadfall on the south end of the property. Although it had been here only a few weeks, it was already growing a pretty thick carpet of moss, sprinkled with mushrooms. If I didn’t take care of it soon, it would be too decayed to deal with by hand. Moreover, I had decided this would be a good place to put in a driveway, so the brush pile had to go.

Just for kicks, I started MapMyRun on my phone to see how far I walked as I worked. For the next five hours, I sorted brush, cutting it down into smaller, more manageable pieces, pulling out anything that could be used as firewood, and hauling everything to the disposal site. Back and forth, back and forth. Some of the wood was pretty nasty, all soggy and covered with mushrooms and other fungus; it squished when I picked it up. Others were covered with a black slime that felt like thick petroleum jelly. It was disgusting. I had to keep rubbing my gloves against trees to scrape off the muck and slime.

It was exhausting. After about an hour and 13 minutes, I had walked two miles and made a considerable dent in the brush pile. I took a short break and then completed another mile’s worth of trips in 43 minutes before taking another short break. Thereafter, for every mile, I took a break, either sitting in my camp chair under the big cedar, or sitting on the tailgate of my truck while giving my phone a bit of a charge.

I had planned to stop after five miles. After all, I have the rest of my life to work here; I was in no real hurry. However, I had started pretty early, before 11 a.m. At the five mile mark, it was only 2:30. I had plenty of daylight left, so why quit now? By now, the pile was 2/3 gone. I could easily put in another hour. I kept going.

Another hour; another two miles. There wasn’t much left. I could finish today! I kept going.

A half hour later, and the pile was all gone. There was nothing left except a few good vine maples I’d set aside for firewood. I’d walked eight miles hauling all that brush.

I was exhausted and covered from head to toe with much and tree slime. Big globs were clinging to my pants and sweatshirt, and my plaid shirt looked like it had been dragged through a mud puddle. My boots were covered with mud, too. I could even feel bits of bark and twigs inside my boots. And, I’d gone through three pairs of gloves. But, I was done. That huge pile of brush and deadfall was history.

Fortunately, I had brought a clean hoodie with me, although I had not thought to bring clean pants. I tossed my plaid shirt and sweatshirt in the back with my dirty boots and changed into my hoodie and Crocs. The best I could do with my pants was brush off the mud with my sweatshirt. Fortunately, I had my towel with me. I covered the driver’s seat, climbed in, and cranked the heat. Blessed, blessed heat!

I was starved and needed a shower. Because I had not planned to be out here this long, I had brought only a banana, a small container of yogurt, and a bottle of PowerAde. All I could think about was sinking my teeth into a big, juicy hamburger. I picked one up on my way home and tore into it like a starving wolf. Boy, was it good!

I felt good. It had been hard, dirty work, but I got it done. I had been dreading dealing with that pile of brush!

Nathan’s estimate was in my inbox when I got home. It looked good, so I gave it my stamp of approval. It was a good day.

Five hours, eight miles, and the pile is now gone! I can now put in my driveway.