I was just starting to tune my harp this morning when James called out to me:

“Would you please come out here to watch me while I use the chainsaw for the first time?”

Ever since we moved out to The Woods last summer, we’ve discussed cutting down some of the small pine trees which surround the barn and outbuildings.

We bought a chainsaw awhile back but hadn’t used it until today. I think that both of us were hesitant to operate it because of the danger factor.

We donned our work gloves, and our special hard orange hats with protective screens for the eyes and headphones for the ears.

James read all the directions carefully and fired ‘er up. The first cut was a branch growing at a weird angle from the base of our liquid amber tree out front (which you may recall from last Fall’s photos).

After several pulls of the starter rope, the chainsaw came to life. I had expected something louder and more dramatic, but the gas-powered machine was not quite as scary as I’d imagined.

However, both James and I have a healthy respect for the chainsaw’s power, and we need to be extremely careful and mindful while operating it at all times.

James approached the liquid amber tree. Zing! The saw cut through the large branch “like buttah”.

“Let’s go out back and try it on a couple small pines!” James exclaimed, so we walked out back to the meadow.

He cut down a twenty-foot tall tree which was probably ten years old, and trimmed off a few branches before letting me cut off the rest. Then I cut the trunk into eighteen-inch sections for firewood.

I was relieved to find that I could manage the chainsaw with ease, but I refuse to be lulled into false complacency or confidence. We absolutely have to be careful. I think the real danger will come after using it a while, when the tendency to relax may creep in.

James suggested that we always operate the chainsaw together, which is a good idea.

Although it is sad to cut short a tree’s life — a new experience for both of us — as long as we do this in a conscious way and give thanks for the firewood, we will feel all right about it.

I know that might sound strange, especially to our local friends who cut down trees on a regular basis. But we wish to live as lightly and consciously on this land as possible.

James expressed it in his usual eloquent way in an email to a friend today, which he has agreed to let me include here in part:

“we fired up the chain saw today and “killed” a couple of trees. i felt totally butch. however, i could almost hear the tree’s tears falling to the ground. we saved as much of the tree for firewood as possible and very neatly trimmed and cleaned up the area where they stood. we probably were more particular doing that than most of our neighbors would be, but that is just how we have to do it. i have thanked the trees’ spirits for the warmth they will provide next winter.”

After cutting down another tree and stacking the wood in the barn, I went back into the Music Room to finish tuning my harp.

I was amused at the juxtaposition between harps and chainsaws; how diametrically opposed those two objects are!

That’s a big part of the fun of living here — the extremes.