There’s a divide in society, between those with calloused hands, and those who ride a desk for a living. The relationship is often of judgment, with one side believing their mama didn’t raise her kids to have dirty hands, and the other believing there is honor in swollen hands that sport thick callouses.
I suspect tree killers have it particularly hard; I suspect no one enjoys seeing the power company contractors roll up the road with those big tree-killing machines whose blades roar and whine slicing through a limb as easy as a knife through melted butter.
As readers might imagine I struggle with tree killing. Even though my poppa worked his way up the ladder from a tree trimmer to meter reader and finally to a line-crew foreman for (then) Nantahala Power and Light, his only daughter prefers tying herself to a tree versus cutting one down.
I agree with my friend Janisse Ray, who wrote, “You’d better be pretty sure that (tree cutting) is absolutely necessary and be at peace with it, so you can explain it to God, for it’s fairly certain he’s going to question your motives, want to know if your children are hungry and your oldest boy needs asthma medicine,” in her book “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood.”
I could bore you with stories of a certain tree company in Atlanta who mistakenly dropped every tree that was specifically marked “Save.” My husband could tell you how inconsolable I was and how our young daughter told the tree killers to leave and never come back.
You can imagine how I felt when I saw the triangular bright orange sign, “Be Prepared To Stop.”
As if one could ever stop Duke Energy from doing whatever they set their mind to do.
Still, being hopelessly optimistic, I read the brochure “The Kindest Cut of All,” which I would like to point out is printed on the carcasses of trees. The brochure explained, “typical distribution power line rights of way are 30 to 50 feet.” I stepped off the area while worrying about my precious trees.
The following morning, the killers just so happened to roll up the road about the time I leave for work. Boldly approaching, I extended my hand and introduced myself.
“Take a moment to look at my hands,” I said, hoping to convey a message that despite my “dressed-up” exterior, I knew about hard work.
“God Almighty!” he said. “You must be doing all the work around here.”
“Let’s take a walk,” I said, while locking my arm in his. “I’d like to introduce you to my babies.”
I showed him the blueberries grown by a traveling salesman from Georgia who, in his spare time, cultivated blueberries common before urban sprawl. “Rescued those from development in 2010,” I explained.
I took him to the Meyers Lemon, “This is the first year I’ll have fruit,” I explained. “Mr. Coleman was 90 when he gave me this tree.”
He nodded and it seemed we had reached an understanding, but just to be certain I made chocolate chip cookies and met them at the end of the road the following morning where I pointed out the medicinal plants growing on my property. “Now when you get poison ivy just pick this and rub it on your skin.”
“Is that what they call water weed?” he asked, then added, “Care if I pet your goats?”
He then offered, with permission of course, part of his breakfast to Frosty and Oreo. They are in love.
That afternoon, the sinking feeling returned when I noticed loads of limbs dropped and abandoned alongside the main road. Envisioning broken blueberries and crushed fruit, I was almost in tears by the time I approached my house. To my surprise, I found an immaculate lawn, not a single wayward twig. Two loads of mulch waited in a holding area.
Kindness, my friends, goes a long way.
The next morning I flagged them down in the middle of the road. “I prepared a breakfast casserole and chocolate chip muffins.” I said, “I put them on the bench near the goats.”
Friends, the look on their faces was priceless. Kindness matters, because even tree killers deserve a good breakfast.
Renea Winchester is a tree loving, medicinal-plant-growing, goat-loving fool. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.