It wasn’t our first tree felling. There had been other trees riddled with pine beetles, ravaged by tornado, or struck by lightning. But this was the first time we’d both been able to sit on our front porch and watch the whole show from the arrival of equipment to the very last twig cleanup. It was an interesting drama of teamwork.
I grew up on what could be called a tree farm. Every few years Daddy cut timber on a few of the 150 acres. In the case of beetles in a pine, that was an emergency. The tree could not be left for the timber cutting crew. Dad set some of us young ones to work painting all the ugly sticky eruptions on the trunk with creosote. Sometimes we actually saved a tree and we were very proud of that. But it was exciting when Daddy decided to cut a diseased tree.
We were automatically released from studying history, math, or literature when a tree was to be cut. We watched from a safe distance and yelled “Timber!” with all our might when the tree fell with a huge swish and a thud like a dull clap of thunder. If no one set us back to school work immediately we played on the fallen trunk while Daddy and the boys sawed off the upper limbs. It might take days of scrubbing with kerosene to get all the pine tar off our legs and hands. But it was worth it to have that joyous few minutes balancing along the log, jumping over it, or studying the rings in the end of the log to see how old the tree was.
There wasn’t much similarity between that tree felling and the one in our current front yard. But one thing was the same. We watched the operation from beginning to end.
The team set to work with vigor and decisiveness. Each man knew his role. One situated the truck that would anchor the tall crane with its bucket as it went up into the top of the tree. Another collected power saw and other tools he would need and climbed nimbly into the bucket. Up went the bucket into upper branches. A man on the ground was in charge of ropes. He deftly threw a heavy rope up to the man in the bucket who then looped it around a limb before he cut it from the tree. As the limb came down slowly the man on the ground directed it to the exact spot he wanted it, then threw the rope back up.
At the base of the tree a man began organizing the brush. Everything was done in perfect coordination, the men yelling signals back and forth. Never was a rope dropped or a limb fallen astray. In minutes the tree was stripped and ready for log cutting from top to bottom. We were amazed at the skill of the man in the sky with his saw, how he maneuvered the bucket to the best advantage, how he dropped the logs so accurately. But also the men on the ground were precise in their movements.
By the time the equipment left and we had our final talk with the captain of the team, everything was neat, stump had been ground, limbs all removed, logs hauled away. All that was left was a pile of sawdust and the fresh pungent aroma of fresh cut pine.
We paid Danny Thomas, the cheerful tree service owner, and went inside. I considered in awe the skill and teamwork of the men, how each did their job, from the guy in the sky down to the one raking up pine needles. In life, I thought, there are so many different jobs to be done, some seeming more lofty and deserving of praise, others just grunt work, but all equally essential. Those who accept their place of work, whether high or low, with a sense of self esteem and responsibility to the team are truly blessed. As are those recipients of their skills!
In writing to the church at Corinth Paul wrote “There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.”