Tree Feller

With a billhook and a pruning saw
I took down the tree, an ash not
fully grown, obviously, but enough
to be sweaty work on a frosty day.
The hook is over forty years old in
my possession, and I am sixty two
trying to be the young man I was back
then, but the racing heart and rests in
the patio chair put that ambition to
shame. I have a chain saw but it is still
boxed after many years, too afraid to try
and swing the same as I did when
wooding on the farm. This morning was
not as reckless as the last time I tackled
the tree, falling down the ladder and
holding on to rip muscles in my arm,
soothed with pain-killers for some
time afterwards until another ache
refrained. Today was well prepared
with rope and props and calculations
for the cut, stopping to survey instead
of running ahead, and in the end it fell
exactly where I had planned and not
reduced the rhododendron to mush
or swiped me across the back, dead.
I’ll have to keep an eye on the stump
as ash grows back quickly, long young
shoots I might allow to try and then
sever to weave in another rustic fence.
It is a cycle, and I survive, so far, like
not tumbling from the high hedges too,
all this existential gardening with a look
to being more careful with a swung hook,
but a trimmer cord is cut to its death
by circuit breakers that save and protect
me, still life in this older feller yet.

1 thought on “Tree Feller

  1. Of course even the garden is a site of fraught political discourse these days. What is the position of felling Ash trees in the face of rampant Ash die-back disease? And as a non- native shrub with dangerous invasive tendencies, where do we stand on rhododendrons post-Brexit?

    Taken as a paean to human ageing though – love it!

    The Westcott Treehugger

    Liked by 1 person

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