Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Tree-Cutting Weekend

This past Sunday I was up at my family's cabin with a bunch of family members. We'd hired a tree cutter to come over and remove some trees that were looming over the roof. I swear, this guy was Superman in his downtime. He's an ambulance driver, cuts trees on the weekend and also belongs to the volunteer fire department.

View from the porch

I woke up stupid early on Sunday, picked up several family members and drove down to the dock to take a boat over to our cabin. It was cool to begin with and a slight breeze was blowing off the water. It was a gorgeous day but I expected to be sweating buckets by the end of the day. The weatherman warned us the temperature would reach 29 by the afternoon.

The Cabin Flag

Whenever we're over at the cabin, we make sure to raise the flag, to let everyone know we're home. And that nice breeze had it billowing almost the whole day. For three whole hours it was one of the few things moving on the porch. We had to wait for our Super Tree Cutter to make a mess before we could clean it up. I spent the morning reading and watching boats motor by. That weekend gas jumped 11 cents and I would have thought traffic would have been scarce but boats of every size and price range promenaded past.

Superman the Tree-Cutter

This is what I like to call my action shot of the day. The STC was halfway through the job and on his second tree. Every so often I would hear this heavy thunk as giant chunks of arbutus hit the ground. I didn't want to be anyone near him but I'd look up from my book every so often to check his progress. The sound of his chainsaw became part of the white noise background. Every so often he had to stop and gas up, the silence like an absence.

The Aftermath

We had a delicious lunch and the STC came and ate, covered in a heavy film of sawdust and sweat. This is the mess he made in our yard. He got a boat ride back to the mainland and I pulled on a pair of gloves that would eventually turn my hands blue for the day.

The Woodpile 2.0

We went to work chopping and stacking wood. If you don't cut arbutus right away it will harden so that you can't split it at all. I spent the next while doing wheelbarrow runs, stacking wood and pulling tree branches into piles for burning. It was these things that left me so sore yesterday and today. We occasionally took ten minutes breaks to rehydrate because the sun really started beating down after lunch.

The Old Orchard

We were winding down when I snuck out on an old bicycle. Berate me all you want but I had been desperate to pick wild berries since six that morning. The ride down that dirt road was awesome. No helmet, bad brakes, potholes and gravel everywhere but I hadn't been on a bike in years. I finally got to the field where the remnants of an old orchard struggle onward.I clambered up this tree and picked as many apples as I could. They were small compared to the kind you see in grocery stores but the fact that they were free, makes up for it.

The Essential Blackberry Picking Tool

One of these things is not like the other. If you ever decide to go blackberry picking, you will need a stick like this. Its best if it has prongs. Trust me when I say it will save you a lot of pain and headaches. It was only after years of picking berries here that I realized how amazing it is. Blackberry bushes are full of thorns that try to keep you from the ripest and juiciest berries but with the stick you can thwart nature. Use the stick to pull branches towards you and push other branches away. Because they're thorny, they'll grab on to one another.


Here's the prize I was after. They're great for putting on cereal and especially for putting in blackberry crumble. This dessert is really tasty with some vanilla ice cream.

It was really awesome picking berries by myself. Crows and songbirds had conversations over my head, bees murmured around my hands, crickets chirped in the long grasses. I could occasionally hear voices drifting over the bushes.


After picking berries it looked like I'd been murdering beets or had seriously cut myself on a thorn. By this time the sun was started to dive in the sky and though I didn't have a watch, I didn't want to be late for dinner. So I biked home, trying to avoid the potholes and keep from spilling my sweet prize.

Apples and Berries

This was what my haul looked like when I first got to the orchard but I couldn't take the apples with me, otherwise I'd end up with blackberry juice instead of berries. Despite that, dinner was delicious, we packed up and headed home.

Boating Home

I was so exhausted when I took this photo but I was driving a contingent of the family home so I did my best to perk up and stay awake. It was an amazing day and I hadn't been over to the cabin in a year so it was nice to go back. We got some essentials accomplished and best of all, I got to pick blackberries!


mister anchovy said...

I love blackberries! At the former Anchovy World Headquarters, we had blackberries which were quite prolific, and Saskatoonberries as well.

When we moved into our new place, we had a tree guy come in as well. There are a number of mature trees on the property. Two big crabapples were growing in such a way as to threaten the phone lines, and a huge locust tree up front had many dead limbs which had never been cleaned up - above the driveway. The fellow we brought in was also amazing, totally comfortable climbing around up in the trees, with a chainsaw on his belt and a chainsaw on a stick and a handsaw on a stick as well. Very impressive business.

theduckthief said...

Heh, Anchovy World Headquarters. I like that.

It's something we've been trying to get done for years but as you can imagine, the STC is a super busy guy. It also doesn't help that when you build in the middle of the forest and clear an area, all the vegetation leans in towards the sunlight.