Dead tree and old men (sometimes vice versa)


I have a dead tree looming over my wood shed. It’s old, ugly, brittle and ready to fall down at any time. I am sympathetic.

I have an old neighbour. He, too, is old, ugly, brittle and, by living up here, is also vulnerable to – and often in the position of – falling down. I am empathetic.

I introduced the two of them.

“That puppy has to come down!”, he declared. “It is dead and will fall right on your shed! I’ll get my stuff and come over on a sunny day and we’ll take ér down.”

“Well, I agree with everything you said but for the ‘we’ part, Kemosabe. What makes you think I am going to let an old coot like you get in harm’s way?”


“Well, I was a logger when I was young. You weren’t. You don’t know how to do this. I do. I am going to climb up that other tree nearby and swing like a pendulum until I can grab the old, dead one and then I am gonna strap myself in on it and take it down in pieces.”

Yeah, right!

When he left I went about roping that old tree to other trees nearby. I basically ‘hamstrung’ the dead, gnarly widow-maker and put tension on the lines so that, when I cut it, it would fall and swing away from the shed. Seemed like a good plan.

And then I left it for other things.

Yesterday, ‘old coot’ comes by while I was napping and, before I can get up, climbs the tree beside the dead one and drags a bit of equipment with him. I show up to see him thirty feet up a tree tangled in ropes.

” Is that how loggers do it?”

“Loggers don’t do this! In the forest the trees are not near sheds, you big doofus. Here you have to get creative! Now stop being so useless and send me up my equipment!”

Turns out the first thing I sent up was his climbing harness! He’s already up the tree and now I am sending up the climbing harness?! The tree he is on is pretty hard to climb. I have poor eyesight but I assumed that he had on small climbing spurs but I was surprised to see that the harness and girdling rope was being sent up after the fact.

We eventually got a third rope around the dead tree (higher up for better leverage) and he came down. As I watched, I realized that he did not have spurs. This old guy had climbed the tree in sneakers!

C’mon! That is impressive. I don’t care who you are (except a coconut picker in Jamaica, perhaps). An old guy over 65 and stiff enough to have trouble tying his shoes goes up a straight, minimally-limbed tree 30 plus feet without aids of any kind!

Who are these people!?

“Well, thanks for that. I was going to offer you a beer but perhaps you’d prefer a coconut or a bunch o’ bananas?”

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