Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Forty Year One Hour

I'm in Denver again this week to help my sister as she goes through dental surgery.

This morning I went for a walk on the High Line Canal. As I walked I could hear the sound of a chainsaw up ahead and as I got closer to it the sound got louder. Around a bend in the trail I saw a group of men cutting down a diseased elm tree that was standing on the opposite side of the canal. By the time I got there most of the tree was gone with only the main trunk of the tree and one hugh branch that pointed up at the sky like a gigantic finger still standing. Only one man was in the tree at that point and he was strapped to the tree with a rope that circled the trunk and connected to a harness around his body. In his left hand he held a chainsaw.

As I watched, he made cuts into the branch using the chainsaw with all the ease of someone using a electric knife to carve a Thanksgiving turkey. He first cut a wedge of wood out of the underside of the branch then he cut down through the top of the branch. When that cut almost met the wedge cut on the underside of it, the branch broke off and fell about thirty feet to the bottom of the dry canal. When it hit the dirt it make a big crashing sound and broke into many pieces. As I stared at the fallen branch I heard one of the men on the work crew say in a thick Asian accent, "Forty year, one hour."

I knew instantly what he meant. It had taken forty years for that tree to grow to the height it was (forty feet) and they (the crew) had taken it apart in a little over one hour. There was something awe inspiring about that fact and also something a little frightening.

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