Rural Living

Chain Reaction

Lumberjacks Come Out of the Woodwork


by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

Neighbors. We’ve all got ’em. They can be great friends, helpful when needed; folks who possess the “pride of place” that can make our neighborhoods quite attractive. They can be the kind of folks we enjoy living near, or the kind of folks we don’t. Every neighborhood has a couple of households the rest of us wish would simply move away tomorrow.

I am fortunate enough to live near a majority of pleasant, helpful neighbors. We don’t really “visit.” We keep to ourselves, we’re relatively quiet, we mind our own business. We know each other’s pets, and if one wanders, we get it back home right away.

When I was sick, one neighbor picked up my mail and newspaper every single day for months, delivered them, made sure I had a hot meal, and then washed the dishes. One of my neighbors is an affable fellow I consider my “rent-a-husband.” He takes care of my lawn. When my satellite dish was covered by three feet of snow, he waded through it, climbed up a ladder, and swept it clean so I could watch “The Amazing Race.” Another neighbor got up from his dinner and came to jump start my car the afternoon my mother died. I’d had one of those NPR “driveway moments” the night before, and left the ignition on.

I was eating lunch this week when that same neighbor called. “You’re blocked,” he said. I wondered how he knew I’d reached a point in writing a story when eating was the only option. Turns out, about 75 feet of a huge white pine had crashed across my driveway.

This happened about the time Brownie and I usually stroll down to get our mail. (Yes, Brownie does get mail — lots of it from you, dear readers!) I’m glad that was another thing I had procrastinated about that day.

The neighbor offered to come over with a chainsaw. One look told me this wouldn’t make much of a dent in the damage. I called another fellow who lives close by. Meanwhile, my “rent-a-husband” walked out his door to assess the driveway commotion.

“Need help?”

“Got a chainsaw?”

Sure he did. He strolled over with his wife and son. Soon, there were three men wielding chainsaws, seeming to relish the task. Men turn into Paul Bunyan when chainsaw-wielding is necessary. The onlookers included two women — the wife and me — the little boy, about eight, and, of course, Brownie. It became an impromptu party. The cacophonous buzzing made conversation almost impossible, but the wife and I stood there with our arms crossed, muttering about the wonders of testosterone. One man also had an ax, which he used on the smaller branches. Sawdust swirled around, and blew into our eyes. The threat of danger was palpable. I kept one hand on my cell phone, ready to call the rescue squad. Thankfully, this was not necessary.

It’s amazing the quick work three men with chainsaws and axes can make of a huge, downed pine tree. In less than an hour, the whole mess was pushed and thrown and shoveled off the driveway and down the hillside, where it will lie in perpetuity. So much for an attractive neighborhood.

Now, I’m afraid to go to sleep. Two gigantic white pines tower on the steep hillside right behind my house. Each is perfectly positioned over a bedroom, ready to kill without warning. I had an expert look at taking them down. He said they were too big; he said he is afraid to attempt the task.

Today, at the hair salon, I leafed through MaryJanesFarm magazine. The reason I picked it up is this cover blurb: “Girl-Friendly Chainsaws.” Aha!

I was hoping to find, perhaps, a pink chainsaw. But no. Instead, I found an 11-pound easy-start model, along with this message, “Once you get the hang of it, handling a chainsaw can be as routine as starting a car.” Oh really? A sidebar listed necessary accessories like a hard-hat (I know they come in pink!), and a rather attractive pair of bright-orange apron chaps the writer dubs “essential.” Should I entertain the fairly unthinkable idea of getting my own chainsaw, I’ll also need “sturdy lug-sole boots with steel toes.” Well, at least I’d have an excuse to go shoe shopping.

It’s really a shame no one sells a bottle of spray-on testosterone. Then, I’d be all set.


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