She was asking about the sign I had fashioned using a piece of plywood I found in my garage. I’m too cheap to buy a can of spray paint, so I used black duct tape to form big bold letters spelling “FREE.” She had come home to find my creation leaning against a pile of freshly cut logs in the middle of our front yard, courtesy of last weekend’s freak October snowstorm.
Our trees started crashing down while I was at work telling radio listeners about the storm’s potential for destruction. The National Weather Service was warning that the snow would put too much pressure on trees that had yet to shed their leaves. It never entered my mind that our trees would be susceptible until my wife called. She feared we’d lose all four of our Bradford Pears. She was even more concerned that one would slam into the house.
I got home to find two of them beyond help. One had smashed into its neighbor. The other had split down the middle, leaving a damaged gutter in its wake and the part left standing threatening to fall into the bay window that brightens our living room.
I’ve never seen a bigger mess outside of our teenage son’s room. Every inch of our yard was covered by a jumble of broken branches big and small. Dirty underwear was about the only thing I didn’t find strewn about the yard.
I was initially at a loss about what to do. Then one of my neighbors suggested we knock some of the snow from the remaining Bradford Pears. I got his meaning after following his gaze to the power and cable television lines stretched over our heads. Once that was done, it was a matter of waiting out the storm and praying that the two remaining Bradfords would leave our house alone.
Our efforts paid off, and I spent the next day throwing a chainsaw party. It took all day but with help from our neighbors we got it all cleaned up. Well, cleaned up only if you overlook the big pile of logs and an even bigger mountain of smaller branches piled up along one end of the house.
The funny thing is, a couple of weeks before the storm hit one of my other neighbors had some trees taken down because he was tired of their leaves clogging his gutters. The fellows he hired put on a good show, so I watched for a while and then asked the guy in charge to come over and give me an estimate on trimming back our Bradford Pears.
If I knew then what I know now I could have spared myself a lot of trouble. But I thought I could save a few bucks and spend this fall and winter slowly doing the job myself. Apparently, though, Mother Nature really wanted those trees trimmed. Who knew a snowstorm would hit in October?
It may not be what I’d planned, but I still have a project to keep me busy for the foreseeable future. I’ve borrowed a chipper from one of my neighbors and, with his help, we are turning that mountain of smaller branches into mulch. I’m going to have more than I can use so stop by if you want some.
I’d use the sign I made for my log pile to advertise “FREE” mulch, but I suspect my wife relocated it.
Either that, or someone else in our neighborhood was even more embarrassed by it than she was.