Sylvan aftermath

We’re home for lunch today. Every few minutes there’s a knock on the door. It’s someone asking whether there’s any tree work to be done. We’re seeing chippers that are antiques, as well as lots of homemade stakebed trailers. These are all no-name operators out to make a few bucks as the opportunity presents itself. There are roaring, whining, grinding noises to be heard in all directions. Another sound is that of a rhythmic alternation, as though of two people wielding felling axes. A look, though, reveals that it’s two men working shoulder to shoulder on the slash, taking turns smiting it with machetes. It’s frightening to watch, because it would be easy for one worker to miscalculate and gash the arm of the other, sending the blade all the way to the bone or even through it. When the bossman came wondering whether there’s any work here when his team is done next door, I asked why there seems to be just one chainsaw, or maybe two, in action. He said that it costs a lot to fuel a saw these days and so it’s less expensive to operate with fewer saws and more workers using machetes. And they’re using rakes and brooms and shovels rather than gasoline-powered blowers. This must be just one more effect of high petroleum prices.

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