Little Tornado


by Jim Riggs

Last night a little windstorm, that we later learned was a small tornado, blew through our neighborhood.  Darlene and I slept through the whole storm.  We both heard some rain in the night, but had no idea of the windstorm until Darlene looked out our back door and said, “Why is the back of our ash tree lying so low.  It’s almost on the ground.”

“What is?”

“The branch, at the back of the ash tree.  It’s almost on the ground.”

Finally, I got interested enough to walk to the backyard to survey the situation.  The limb was nearly touching the grass.  The reason the limb was almost on the ground was that the top was blown out of our ash tree.  The tip of the tree had broken completely off and fallen to the south and one high limb was still attached and was dangling in the opposite direction.  Both were leaning on lower branches or caught on other limbs , forcing those lower branches toward the ground.  I could see the problem.  The solution was also obvious.  I needed to climb a ladder with my chainsaw and finish cutting the top branches.  This was not my plan for the day, but it quickly pushed itself to the front of my to-do list.

Carrying my extension ladder to the back yard, I filled my chain saw with oil and gas, and found a long hunk of heavy rope.  Starting my chain saw, I cut off a section from one of the branches.  The severed limb was still wedged on more of the lower limbs.

I killed the saw and tied my rope to the handle.  Leaning my 16 foot extension ladder against a high branch, I climbing to the top, pulling my saw after me.

Cranking life into a chain saw from a precarious perch fourteen feet in the air is a scary proposition, but the saw started easily and I quickly cut off enough limbs to allow the broken branch to crash to the ground.

I looped my rope over a higher limb, securing it with a slip knot.  It was time to leave the ladder.   A vision flashed in my mind.  I felt a moment of pride.  A seventy-three year old man was climbing limb to limb on a broken ash tree.  Either the guy was a marvel man or completely crazy.  Probably a marvel man.

I climbed to the saw and beyond, pulling it up behind me and again cranking it carefully to life.  I made quick work of the last big limb, trimming off enough so that it fell heavily through the branches of the ash tree to the ground.  Killing his saw, Marvel Man lowered it to the ground and climbed slowly and cautiously to the ladder and back to earth.

Darlene stood on the deck, shaking her head.  I expected pride and marvel that her husband with two artificial knees and a shoulder tied together with surgical thread was able to conquer the broken ash tree.  But she simply stood on the deck, shaking her head with her face filled with a mix of a frown and a condescending smile.
~ 2010

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