When We Do What Has To Be Done
We find strength we didn’t know we had.
Many years ago I bought a tiny little tree for my yard. It took no time to get it in the ground, it was so small. Over the next few years, one thing was clear. I had underestimated this little tree.
It’s now big, heavy, and beautiful. A Palo Verde. The canopy takes up half of my backyard.
The tree was also reincarnated. About six years ago, we came home from vacation to find the tree had blown clear over and was now occupying space in the pool. We had no other choice but to completely cut it down.
That damn thing grew back. Rose like a Phoenix right out of its own trunk. Twice as big. Twice as strong.
We had a huge wind storm on Wednesday of this week. When I came home from work, I found part of it had snapped in half and split at the truck. A third of the tree was resting on my block wall fence that was also now leaning.
It was a huge heavy arm leaning on a thin wall. The weight could easily topple it. My anxiety level went through the roof but all I could do was stare at it. I was completely overwhelmed. It was too much.
I was confounded about what to do next. I needed a landscaper. I needed to call the insurance company. I needed a masonry expert.
I didn’t have time to do any of that. I’m tired. I have too much to do. I have to make dinner soon. I have to pick my daughter up from practice. Too. Much.
I’m incredibly independent but it was a rare moment where I just wanted someone else to take care of something for once.
Even when I was married, this still would have been my problem. My ex-husband wouldn’t have found a landscaper or called our insurance agent. It would have been me. I just wanted it to not be me, right now.
I texted my boyfriend and told him what happened. I wasn’t looking for him to fix it. I just needed some comfort. His response was something akin to “That’s a bummer.” He doesn’t have the bandwidth for this right now either.
I put a post on Facebook asking for recommendations for a landscaper that could get over here ASAP and chop down a third of this huge tree. I was terrified that if the wind kept going it would blow the block wall right over and make the damage even worse.
I got absolute crickets. The sun went down without even a lead. I went to bed praying the storm had passed.
The next day, I was no further along in fixing this than I was the night before.
I love that damn tree but I cursed it. How close to the wall it was planted, how big it had gotten. I knew, at some point, something was going to go horribly wrong. I just didn’t need it to be today.
After hours of staring at the tree, I realized it was not going to fix itself. Then, I did something rather stupid. I decided to do it myself.
I found an exceptionally small chainsaw in the garage. I had no idea I even owned a chainsaw. Most likely, it was left behind by my ex-husband. I have no idea why he owned a chain saw.
I have never before in my life used a chainsaw. This, clearly, was a recipe for disaster.
I just didn’t care. There was a job that needed to get done and I just had to do it. I was going to be the disaster until it was done.
I got to work. I just started sawing. Small branches at first to get the weight off, then bigger. Low ones first, then taller.
Sawdust flew everywhere and stuck to every part of me. Cutting through those limbs smelled like burnt marshmallows. It was odd. The saw is very heavy and I could only saw for a couple minutes at a time, strategically making cuts so that when the branch finally snapped it wouldn’t come back on me.
Finally, I took out one large branch about 4 inches in diameter and the broken third lifted right up off the wall.
It was difficult. I’m not gonna lie. It took about two hours and the sun scorched my shoulders.
I’ve never been so relieved. Now I can think. Now I can get a plan together. Now I can take my time to find someone to fix the damn wall. Immediately anxiety decreased exponentially.
Grabbing that chainsaw might’ve been an absolutely stupid thing and a couple of my friends have noted that they never would’ve done that. “That’s how you die,” they told me.
I was never afraid that I was going to die by my own hands with a small chainsaw.
This tree tested me this week. This strong willed, reincarnated tree. It backed to me in a corner and looked me straight in the face and said, “Yeah? What are you gonna do about it?”
I’m going to have to remove the entire rest of the tree. It won’t live past this break. The roots are too shallow and I know she’s too strong. It’s only a matter of time before she takes out the whole wall.
I’m going to be sad to let her go, this damn tree. But she gave me one thing. The realization that if you test my strength, I’ll win. On my own. Long after she’s gone.