Thanks for asking – we survived the Great Storm of Summer 2012 with uninterrupted electrical power, and we suffered only a downed tree and a hole in the attic from an airborne Costco gazebo. As far as collateral damage, that’s not too bad. The tales of woe surrounding the horrific weather event last Friday night are plentiful in our metro area, and we are comparatively unscathed. We had no looting, but then again, we have no loot.
How is it possible that I have lived lo’ these 50 years and had never experienced or even heard of the sudden violent weather event known as “derecho”? I am still uncertain as to the proper pronunciation of the word, but I am quite certain as to the effects of this phenomenon. It is not a hurricane and it is not a tornado; I understand that other more common storms can be more deadly (although there have been 9 deaths attributed to the derecho). In my little corner of the world, property damage was more often than not confined to split trees and prematurely defrosted foods in freezers without power. The ice cream tubs and Lean Cuisines of millions in the region have been a total loss, but they have vowed, “We will re-buy”.
Our family did experience one major casualty. The Bartlett pear tree in our backyard, a tree taller than our two-story home, was destroyed by the storm whose name I cannot pronounce. We gathered no actual pear fruit from this tree, but it did provide countless hours of climbing pleasure to the kids, and served as invaluable shade across our back deck. I know it was only a tree, but it had personality and we loved it as much as you can love a tree.
In death, there is rebirth. The former site of that tree will soon be transformed into a roaring fire pit, and the tree will live again as inaugural kindling in the flames of that pit. But that is a story for another day.
Its untimely demise provided me the opportunity to prove myself a man, no small feat at this point in my life. These moments are becoming less and less frequent, another story for another day. At this point, I know I will never own a motorcycle. It is unlikely I will ever kill a bear in the wild, even in self-defense. The tattoo window has closed. Growing presentable facial hair remains a challenge to this baby face. I can, however, own and operate my own personal weapon of mass destruction. I have the means, I have the desire, and now I had the need. I could own and operate my very own chainsaw.
Once I realized that our trusty friend, the Bartlett pear, was draped across our deck, I knew that my time had come. In the morning, I would buy a chainsaw and slice that sucker up good. IN the morning, I would be a lumberjack. It would be too hot for a Woolrich flannel plaid, but a bandana around my head could complete my transformation from suburban paper pusher to high adventure mountain man. Too bad all I had was a giveaway 5K t-shirt and some Columbia brand shorts that had shrunk in the waist over the past few years. That outfit would have to do. The menacing chainsaw would have to compensate for my decidedly un-lumberjack wardrobe.
When buying a chainsaw the morning after a storm has killed every third tree within a 10 mile radius, the selection of weapons can be limited. I thought that money was no object until confronted with the reality of the remaining choices. I could opt for the nuclear powered Husqvarna for $249.99, chain oil and gas not included, but I wasn’t sure that I could lift it for more than a few swipes at a time. Besides, it looked scary.
My other option was what I would compare to that little Christmas tree that Linus recommended to Charlie Brown so many holidays ago. “It’s not a bad little tree, Charlie Brown. All it needs is a little love.” That lonely little saw with a chain (hard to call it a ‘chainsaw’ with a straight face) was an affordable $49.99, electricity not included. This model would never be featured in a slasher film, but it would have to do on short notice.
In my desperation, I went cheap and bought the Lady Gillette of electric chain saws. After trimming the fallen branches, you could trim your nails with it. It was still a chainsaw, in the technical sense of the word, but it did lack a certain what I would call ‘testosterone’. It was light and purred like a kitten instead of growling like a bear, as I imagined the Husqvarna roared. Nothing is more emasculating than that electric extension cord trailing behind the Great Tool, as any man who has been forced to use an electric mower can tell you.
My Lady Gillette does cut, though. Slowly and methodically, I filleted that tree into submission, and I have all of my digits still attached. No one wants a Great Storm, but when it serves as an excuse to indulge in a power tool purchase, well, I guess there’s your silver lining.
I am not powerless. I own a chainsaw. Let me know if you need your nails done.
Update: Our homeowner’s insurance will pay to remove the entire tree, so I could have gone without the chainsaw after all. Too bad I destroyed the receipt before anyone got any bright ideas about returning it.