Monday, March 16, 2009

Ruminations on a chain saw

I have a long and complicated relationship with chain saws. Seven years ago when my x-husband moved out he naturally took with him the chain saw.
That seemed perfectly reasonable to me.
Then an enormous limb fell across the driveway and it became clear that if I were going to stay here I would have to get my own chain saw. At the hardware store I asked for the lightest weight chain saw, a queen size chain saw.
Such a thing does not exist, at least not at the Hastings Hardware store. I ended up with a 14 inch HomeLite. The hardware store man said, “Watch out for the kickback.” Which is not something that had ever been said to me before.
I gave my new chain saw a name, Frederick Barbarossa.
I read the instructions repeatedly. Eighty percent of the times I pulled the starter cord the chain saw did not start, did not purr into action. I reread the instructions.
I always wore a helmet and gloves. My friend M’s husband (now very ex) loaned me his chaps, but they seemed a little over the top. Even for me.
I will cut this story short and just tell you that my chain saw skills improved and I can creditably cut up a large fallen branch. I cannot and mostly likely will never take down a dead tree with a four-foot diameter.
But that is just what CSB did last weekend. I puttered inside the house, and outside as well; I listened to the suburban obbligato of power tools, and I hummed to the susurrus of CSB’s chain saw, which is most decidedly not Queen-size.
My chain saw days are over and this is generally a good thing. Though I can be very helpful with a hydraulic wood splitter.

Announcement of Death to Saint Fina
Ghirlandaio 1473-1475

While CSB was taking down the dead birch I thought of Saint Seraphina laid out on her plank. Seraphina was a 13th century Italian virgin (naturally) who early on was afflicted with a painful paralysis. She thought it would be a good idea to imitate Christ on the cross, so she spent six years laying flat on a plank, never changing position.
For this remarkable feat she is a saint.

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