“Don’t worry,” she said, “the overhead wire isn’t live.”

I’m sure everyone has tackled a home repair or landscaping project themselves instead of calling a professional. You don’t have the right tools. So you use the wrong ones. Or borrow the right ones. And damage them. Honestly, how many people on this planet are really qualified to safely operate any kind of power saw? Imagine the accident possibilities.

When I set out to take down a 30-foot tall tree at my aunt’s cottage last week, I never got to the point of firing up my cousin’s chainsaw and I’m thankful the overhead wire wasn’t “live.”

The idea was pretty simple: widen the mouth of the driveway by taking down a tree at the edge of the road. It made sense on paper. When I actually studied the tree and the lay of the land, I realized the entire tree, stump and all, had to come out.

Without cutting the tree (an American Hornbeam) I started digging around its base, using successively smaller shovels as the root system became further entwinded with that rocky Finger Lakes soil. I finally bared a root enough to sever it with three or four blows of a very sharp, borrowed axe. Many grunts and curses later, I’d managed to sever three roots. I pushed my hand against the tree. It was as solid as a telephone pole and I’d been working at it for over an hour.

Thinking I might be able to tilt the tree a bit with my truck – exposing more roots for chopping – I retrieved some heavy rope from the cottage. I tied one end to the tree, six feet up for leverage. I backed my truck up to the tree, straddling the little-used lower lake road. I tied the other end of the rope to the undercarriage. I pulled forward in my truck until the rope was taut. There was a stretch of about twenty feet. I pressed the accelerator and to my joy the tree yielded. To my utter surprise it really, really yielded. It caught the overhead wires; tree and wires fell toward me and my truck. I floored it. I was, of course, like a dog running from its tail, since the tree was tied to my truck. The tree popped out of the ground, roots and all. I’d dragged it all the way across the street before I realized I was going to ram an embankment if I didn’t slam on the brakes.

Miraculously, only the top half of the tree, with its lightweight branches, landed on my trunk. Thankfully the wires weren’t live. As my aunt had assured me earlier, they were defunct cable television wires.

I sat silently in my truck, thankful I wasn’t electrocuted and my truck wasn’t damaged. I suddenly laughed. I was glad it was off-season and no one had been here to witness this farcical performance. But I was too glad too soon. There stood the nextdoor neighbor, hands on hips, watching me trying to climb through branches and wires blocking my driver’s door. Sensing, perhaps, that I might be embarrassed, he quickly retreated to his cottage before I had a chance to tell him I’d planned it this way.

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One Comment on ““Don’t worry,” she said, “the overhead wire isn’t live.””

  1. Frank Paolo Says:

    It’s a good thing that wire wasn’t live!
    If it were, I wouldn’t be able to say,
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RICH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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