Monday, April 4, 2011

silent morning, a freewrite

this is the wallpaper in the kitchen of our new place, a perfect compliment to the wood paneling and faux Tiffany lamp over the dinner table

Quiet morning. Now at least. Woke to the sound of a chainsaw. 9am, day off, chainsaw. yeah. thanks. But I'm not complaining. My wife who got home only an hour or so ago from a 12-hour overnight on-call shift, she might have something to say. As it is she doesn't sleep well during the day so a surprise visit from municipal arborists and she didn't know what the hell was going on. My eyes instantly open I could guess as to what it was. The high pitched engine would rev and pause, a thump, rev and pause, thump. Then a second motor came to life with a slow grumble. A sharp sound would jolt my wife. I quietly tried to clue her in, both of us still unmoved. "They're removing a street tree on the block. The chipper will have to go for a while but the chainsaw will be done in only a few more cuts." The longer pauses and longer revs meant the arborist was down to the base of the tree cutting the larger trunk. I hoped for my wife's sake they would be done soon. The grumble of the wood chipper would continue after the chainsaw for a while. All in all they would be in and out, having taken down a large old tree in pretty bad shape, in about 30 minutes. By this point of course I am up and watching the end of the take-down. I've tried to make the apartment as dark and cave-like as possible but my mind is turned on so might as well watch. The man with the chainsaw in the front truck, the boom truck, I feel like I have seen before. He must be one of the main arborists for the Parks Department here in Queens as I have seen him around the neighborhood and he does good work. His long gray hair and strong swagger reminds me of my gruff tree nursery friends back home. Makes me realize I miss them. I would quickly notice that the tree being removed was right next to where we parked our car. Not a scratch. Those guys were good.

But now the silence is inviting. The hum of the fridge has stopped. The birds are chirping this morning, but not at this moment. Cars resume their zipping up our otherwise quiet, residential street. Must have rained, the asphalt under the tires is making that unmistakable sound. I ground coffee last night so I could make a french press without a peep this morning and it's almost gone. The fingers begin to warm up and go a little faster. I'm tempted to put music on, headphones that is, but I feel like I should relish in this still morning. It's peaceful with it's lack of distraction. I think about the to-do list that I have to begin battling. I have awesome new running shoes but going running with a mean head cold on a rainy day is not the smartest. Like much of my family before me I have a hard time sitting still. But this morning I am trying to stop and breath and take that moment to be thankful.

The new challenge I have been hoping for at work is going to come to fruition. I have been hired to aid in a new woodland restoration campaign in one of the greatest public parks in the world. Woodland management and restoration are two aspects of horticulture and arboriculture that I have wanted to get involved in from the start. In a major way the stuff that got me interested in the first place. I remember with great fondness being a kid in Amagansett following around Doc Whitmore on his bike as he rode around the neighborhood talking with people about their trees. His big frame would stand and stare up at these genius creatures with a knowledge you knew was deep and valuable beyond his years of practice. Hurricane Gloria would show up around that time, in the fall of 1985. I would look around at the devastated landscape of the eastern end of Long Island, staring into the uprooted masses of roots only moments ago anchoring historic oak and elm and maple. Secretly I hoped the trees would say something to me, clue me in a little, begin to give me the knowledge like Doc had. Twenty six years later I realize I'm starting to learn. I know my trees and my native plants. I know treecare and proper pruning practices. But there is still a lot to learn, a lifetime's worth in fact. Any real horticulturist can tell you that. The one thing about this profession, you will never stop learning if you keep an open mind. I'm excited to hone my skills further. ...silly little things like getting real good at tossing a throwbag and line into towering trees with precision. I'm psyched to get to know different lichens and fungus people don't see that are right in front of them. Time to know even better the laundry list of introduced invasive plants that threaten our natural ecosystems with major change. I'm going to get really good handling a chainsaw. I want to train my eyes to see the forest for the trees and then be able to see the forest for the forest again. And the whole time work towards being able to properly articulate my knowledge to share it with the world around me. Time to become a certified arborist, and citizen tree pruner, two goals I've put off for long enough. There is a to-do list that I have been building for a while now. Time to start chipping away at it.

Inspiration, in the form of a screeching chainsaw, who woulda thunk?

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