It’s no secret that I don’t run.  I have joked repeatedly that it would take a something akin to a zombie invasion to cause me to break into a sprint. I’m just never in that big a hurry.  And I would rather engage in almost any other form of exercise rather than break a sweat (or an ankle) running.  

I was wrong about the zombies, not that I wouldn’t run from them, I would.  But I have discovered, purely by accident, that there could be no more compelling motivator for me to suddenly attempt the twenty yard dash through a dangerous obstacle course of fallen limbs, loose rocks, and overgrown brush, than the terrifying cracking sound a tree makes as it falls in your direction. 

And in the process, I have decided that my darling husband is completely off his rocker.  

And not because he has been planning the removal of an unwanted, potentially hazardous, southern pine from the fringes of our back yard for weeks.  The quote to remove the tree professionally was ridiculously high, so he came up with this plan to cut it down himself.  I almost understand that. It is a guy thing to want to play with power tools and cause a bit of legal destruction.  And of course, it would require access to the new chainsaw that he just HAD to have.  Who doesn’t want a nice new chainsaw, after all?   

I tried to talk him out of it.  My arguments?  “It’s too dangerous!”  “You’ll get killed!”  “It’s a perfectly good tree!”  I knew that the potential for disaster was great, but he was determined…and he had the proper tools.  He was using a borrowed winch, (my sister’s husband cuts trees down with some regularity without killing anyone or causing property damage) he had a brand new chainsaw, and the tree was already leaning away from the house, so it was unlikely to fall into a wall.  I relented.  He was allowed to cut down the tree.  I would gladly watch from the safety of my house while he risked life and limb.  I needed to be there just in case I needed to call 911. 

 He had other plans for me. 

Off his rocker…remember?  He wanted me to control the winch! That alone proves the insanity defense if anything would. Who in their right mind would let ME of all people operate the tool responsible for making the tree fall in the right direction? 

I was dressed in capri’s and flip flops—not proper dress code for the amateur lumberjack—but as I was given exactly three minutes notice before being tasked to head up the hill to the man the winch, it would have to do.

The upper yard was even more jungle-like than it was in the spring. I carefully maneuvered the narrow path where the cables had been stretched and ultimately attached to the tall narrow pine. I looked up at the tree and squinted against the sun. I was trying to gauge how tall the tree was and how far it would fall. It looked suspiciously like it would be tall enough to fall right where I was standing. And my entire role in this Greek tragedy was to manually crank the winch to tighten the cables attached to the tree in the hopes that it would fall in my direction. 

The proverbial “red flag” was flying high on my side of the yard.  I brought this scenario immediately to my husband's attention but he laughed it off saying that the tree was nowhere near tall enough to fall anywhere near me. He even went so far as to show me precisely where the tree would fall...if everything went according to plan...which it seldom ever does.

Within a few minutes, the chain saw had roared to life and the sound of chain chewing through tree filled the air.  I was cranking…winching the tree until the cables were tight enough to play music…when Mike suddenly shouted, “GO, GO, GO!” from across the yard.  The cables abruptly went completely slack and I heard the sickening crack of the tree beginning to fall.  “GO, GO, GO!” was enough for me!  I took off like I was shot out of a canon.  I don't think I have ever run so fast in my life, hurdling the underbrush and the fire pit like an Olympic athlete.  

Or at least, that’s how it seemed in my head as I ran. 

When I reached the furthest point I could go without scaling the six foot fence, I turned around to look back at the place where the tree had been.  The tree was no longer standing, and the spot where I had been cranking the winch had been showered with pine needles and branch debris from where the tree clipped the edge of the fence, both shattering the fence, and scattering parts of the tree throughout the area.  My husband came dashing too my side of the yard, wondering why I stopped cranking the winch.  “You told me to run!” I said, completely out of breath.  “I told you to winch faster.” He replied.  

I adamantly disagreed. 

“GO, GO, GO, translates into RUN, RUN, RUN…NOT winch faster!”  

He clearly should have said, CRANK, CRANK, CRANK…or WINCH, WINCH, WINCH, if he wanted me to continue to man my post.  Which thankfully, I had abandoned in order to run.  There is no way I could have cranked the manual winch faster than gravity had pulled the tree to the ground.  And this tale could have had a completely different ending if I hadn’t had the quick reflexes of woman stalked by flesh eating zombies! 

I think I might need some ice for my ankles though…it’s not every day I run a twenty yard dash through a dangerous obstacle course, after all.

Until the next time…I’ll be nursing my twisted ankles, and thanking my lucky stars!

Copyright © 2000-2018, Erica Lucke Dean. All rights reserved. Any retranscription or reproduction is prohibited and illegal.
Posted on September 26, 2010 .