Branching Out

August 6, 2010

A couple of really big tree limbs have come down in our backyard lately. I’ve wondered if I should be concerned that some of our old growth trees have been dropping twenty foot limbs, especially since they seem to have a lot more, but the trees seem healthy enough. They’ve got limbs to spare. The only bad thing, for me, is having to cut up the fallen limbs so I can move them somewhere else–like over the back fence, where the neighbors can deal with them. I use a hand saw for sawing up the limbs, mainly because I think it reassures the trees I’m not a serious threat. That and the fact that my previous experiences with power tools haven’t been that great, so I think it’s better to avoid using chain saws. Having only four limbs I don’t think I have any to spare, and anyway all that sawing is good for the forearms. Somewhere I also read that supposedly left-handers don’t live as long as right-handers because things like chain saws aren’t designed with lefties like me in mind. It’s probably not really true–in fact I’ve never found any proof yet that left-handers don’t live as long as right-handers. I think right-handers want to believe that because we’re better at baseball and fencing and spatial geometry, but that’s another story.

I’ve wondered if I should worry about the threat posed by falling limbs, but it’s not as though the trees are shedding limbs the way our dogs shed hair. As for the dogs, they’re smart enough that they don’t spend a lot of time hanging around under the trees anyway–they prefer the driveway, since chipmunks hide in the wheel wells of the cars and it’s easier to keep an eye on what they neighbors are doing. And my wife spends most of her time outside on the patio, until she’s driven back inside by the mosquitoes. The only one of us who spends a lot of time under the trees is me, mainly when I’m out there sawing up tree limbs, which requires so little thought that I can spend a lot of time thinking about other things. Mainly I think about a story I once heard about a tourist on a beach who went out to photograph the sunset. He was standing under a palm tree and was holding camera up, ready to snap a picture, when a coconut fell right on his skull and killed him. I spend too much time thinking about this story while I’m sitting under the trees sawing up branches, although it hasn’t stopped me from going out there yet. I figure the chances of a big branch actually falling on me must be pretty low. And I’m not even convinced the story about the tourist is true. Coconuts, unlike tree branches, cluster right up around the trunk, so if you stay away from the trunk you’re probably going to be safe, unless someone’s up there actually throwing coconuts at you. How many people are killed each year by coconuts, anyway? I’ve been to a lot of beaches and I’ve seen a lot of warning signs: Beware of Undertow, Beware of Sharks, Beware Of Guys In Hawaiian Shirts Who Want You To Visit Their Condo. I’ve never seen a sign that said Beware of Coconuts. Okay, my chances of getting hit by a big tree branch are greater than anyone’s chances of being hit by a coconut, but it’s still really, really, really unlikely. And if it does happen, well, someone can just throw me over the back fence.

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