It was the broken branches scattered like velociraptor carcasses in the yard after a wild wind storm that started me thinking about chainsaws. When I think of shopping I am more likely to envision high-end resale boutiques or perhaps hiking gear, so I had no frame of reference for chain saws, or trimmers, or other potentially deadly yard contraptions. I did what every modern person seems to do, googled for answers, and asked friends for advice. The internet answers were confusing and the consistent advice from friends was “I advise you to NOT buy a chain saw.”
What was a girl to do? There were pieces of trees in the yard too large to be disposed of without being dismembered. The cost of yard help with a chain saw was four times the cost of one smallish, rather cute and colorful electric chain saw at the local hardware store. So off I went to learn about chains and clutches and brakes and engine oil and chain tension. It seemed appropriate to pick up a not-quite-as-deadly bush trimmer at the same time, since the bushes in the yard had declared their intention to become trees, using syringe size needles to defend their territory.
The truth is I hate yard work. I was raised in Los Angeles near Hollywood were nothing ever dies, so I did not know the difference between annuals and perennials and had never cut anything down. Of course, I was once told that I must love gardening since I am a vegetarian. My retort commented on their obvious love of ranching since they were a carnivore. I had split wood for the fireplace while living in Colorado, but chainsaws were out of my realm of experience. However I was determined.
Purchasing the deadly gear was quickly followed by reading the terrifying instructions, detailing all the ways I could end up in the emergency room minus limbs and vital organs. I briefly considered buying a suit of armor at the local renaissance store, but decided that might be over-kill. I added engine oil to keep the deadly teeth cool, put on appropriate clothing, shoes and safety glasses, and dissected the branches, first letting my neighbors know that they should respond to any screams. The branches were no match for my weapon, and I must admit, I felt a bit like wonder-woman. I dragged the pieces to the front of the house, where the trash crew had promised to feed them to the voracious trash truck.
In that state of mind I turned to the vicious bushes, their thorns glistening in the sun, daring me to use the trimmer on their thick and solid branches. I dared and failed to reduce the bush-that –would-be-king to acceptable bush size. But the thorns had not counted on the chainsaw. It did occur to me that Lewis Carroll might have been considering yard work when he wrote his famous poem:
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
I took my “vorpal blade” in hand, and faced my foe.
“One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!”
I left it trimmed and called for reinforcements to drag the branches away, since my gloves were no match for the thorns. A girl does have her limits.