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2011-10-13 digital edition

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2011-10-13 / General Stories

The Family Tree

By Daris Howard
Life’s Outtakes

Trying to be a dutiful son, I help my mother when I can. Thus, one day, when she suggested in passing that she really wanted a tree removed that was blocking her view, I made a mental note to do it for her. She talked about how she would like to have it dug clear out so she would not have the lawn broken up. I thought I would just go out there some day and do it to surprise her.

I have to admit that I was amazed that she wanted it removed because it did provide nice shade for the family reunions. But, I had to admit that it did block the view from the window.

One day, I finally made it out there. I knew it wouldn’t take me all that long; why, it wasn’t more than 12 inches in diameter. I didn’t even pack a lunch.

I chose a day I knew she would be gone visiting her brother and wouldn’t be around at all. I started out by cutting the tree down. By the way, if a tree is leaning to the north, don’t assume that when it’s cut down that it will fall to the north. Trees have a tendency to fall in exactly the opposite direction you think. I dropped it right across Mom’s new picnic table. What the heck, we needed some kindling for our next cookout,and I’m perfectly fine with sitting on the ground to eat.

Next I started digging around the roots. As I found more root I dug wider and wider. Soon I had a hole roughly the size of a quarry; a quarry the size of Rhode Island, and I turned the new lawn she planted there into a plowed hill.

I dug under the roots of the tree and all around them until I thought the tree had to be loose. I found an old rusty chain and chained one end to the bumper of my pickup and one to the tree. I pulled away until it was tight, then hit the gas. The chain broke and flipped forward,smashing out the back window of my pickup. That ticked me off. No tree was going to get the best of me.

I found a longer, stronger tow cable and hooked it to the tree and to my pickup. I pulled away until it was tight and hit the gas; my pickup died. I tried again with the same result. I decided I needed a run at it, so I backed up and took off at high speed. There was a loud tearing of metal, and I looked back. Instead of a tree out of a hole, my bumper was laying on the ground.

This was war now.

I grabbed my chain saw and started to cut through the roots. Suddenly my chain saw bound up and died. Who would have guessed that the phone cable ran underneath one of the tree’s roots? I’m sure Mom would enjoy the quiet of not having her phone ring all of the time, and it probably needed replacing anyway. I’m sure the waterline that ran into the house that I cut through did. Why, it barely broke the chain on my chainsaw. I did have to shut off the well pump and bucket out the water.

Now that my chainsaw was broken, I found a hand saw and started cutting. Soon I had cut every root I could find, but the stump would barely budge. I dug, I cut, I dug some more, until the sweat was pouring off of me. I couldn’t even take a drink of water; the well was off. Finally the tree started to move, and with a lot more coaxing and blisters, I finally slid it out of the hole.

It was just in time, too, because Mom drove into the driveway. She walked over and, just as I expected, she was surprised. My heart swelled with pride as I announced I had removed the tree for her.

Finally, her shock subsided so she could speak. “That is the wrong tree!”

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