The Tree Cutters

This story is about a tree trimming crew I saw in front of my apartment in Zona Colonial but first I must share some of my tree trimming history and knowledge.

Fuerte de San Jose and the large trees 2007

Fuerte de San Jose and the large trees 2007

I was born…LOL! But really my first time that I remember tree trimming affected me badly was on my first birthday. My dad (my dad was known as a tree surgeon and my mother was a nurse..yes..I come from a family of doctors..LOL!) was born “in the trees.” When he says “Bye, see ya later” it comes out as “In the trees.” He was a tree man since I can remember. On my first birthday he got the first knuckle of his ring finger cut off because of some chipper that went crazy. So my birthday party was delayed because of tree trimming. To this day when he pretends he is bending his finger over, when it really is long gone-by-chipper, we are reminded of that finger loss day when I turned 1.

When I was old enough to drag a branch my dad took me with him on his weekend make-extra-money tree trimming jobs. I was on the ground crew of 1. I had tree climbing envy because he would just shimmy up that tree using a harness and some really spiky shoes. He would be toting a big chain saw or some curved hand saw with really large teeth. I didn’t want to be on the ground picking up the droppings. I wanted to do the chopping. But I did my duty and drug all the branches to the brush pile as directed by bossman daddy in the tree.

We were always trimming trees. I don’t know how the trees grew so fast in our yard but it seemed that at least once a week we had to do something with picking up some tree parts. Branches, leaves or logs for chopping into firewood. Always something to do with a tree.

There were always chain saws around. At least 2 to 3 different sizes for different jobs. There was a big industrial size saw. That baby could bring down a big tree in no time. Just cut that wedge out of the side and the tree soon came crashing down. After it was down then the chain saw changed. The medium-sized one cut the tree into workable pieces. Bigger branches cut off and the tree cut into splittable lengths. Then the baby chain saw to cut the smaller branches and twigs for putting on the burn pile or sending it to the chipper for mulch.

The firewood splitting was a real chore. I have a picture of me in the woodpile in my yellow bikini. Hair in pigtails holding a maul type ax (it is more wedge-shaped for easier log splitting). I looked like a mix between Bonnie (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) and some Hillbilly gal. I got to make spending money splitting the wood. I got $5USD for splitting a face cord (our face cord was about 4 feet high by 8 feet long with the length of the piece being about 14 inches long). It took forever to do this splitting. My hands were callused. My arms killed me. I got splinters all the time. But for what I thought was a lot of money at the time, I did the work. Then one day I was using the sledgehammer on a chisel chopping some really large log into pieces. I didn’t realize that I need to grind the edges of the chisel, I guess I was really wanting to chop that wood instead of taking time out to get the chisel ground down. Well, a piece of the metal from the ragged edge broke off and landed inside my leg next to my knee cap. It really didn’t bleed but there was a white ball in inside flesh sticking out if the small hole. I pretended that it didn’t hurt but I ended up having to go to the hospital and get the metal removed. So I still have my wood splitting scar on my knee.

I even climbed trees all the time. Be it to get an apple of just to go up there and sit. I even had dreams that Donny Osmond would stop and see me sitting in the tree and climb up and join me. I had all the good climbing trees names along with the spots that were best for sitting. My favorite was the queen tree. This is where Donny and I would sit in my daydreams hiding from the world in my green world.

My first time I was permitted to use the chain saw I felt like I had really grown up. I had made it in the world. Then my son and I started going camping all the time and my dad gave me my own chain saw to cut the wood I got from the firewood man or from the sawmill. It was one of his, a small one, just perfect. Then even better, I got my very own chain saw for Christmas from my dad. I was so happy. I loved getting tools and this was my treasure. I finally had MY own chain saw. This way I could saw my wood into chopable pieces and then ax and hatchet that stuff up into the perfect firewood size. I was finally content. I needed no more in life..jejeje

So now that you know the history and you will understand why this tree chopping story was so amazing to me.

I got up early before the sun hit my balcony full force to make some jewelry. I had to grind down some coconut shells into pendant size pieces and use the Dremel to rout out different Taino type designs on the shell. Then polish the shell and drill some holes to make little necklaces. I was out on the balcony with my goggles on grinding away when this truckload of men pulled up to the park. There were 5 men in the back and 2 suit type men in the front. All got out and was looking up into the tree. I tried to look like I wasn’t looking and kept working. Soon the machetes came out and some very old rustic wobble ladders were leaned on the side of the tree. these machete holding men went up the ladder and crawled out to the edge of different branches. All this while holding onto their machetes. Then they started hacking away at the branches. They were trimming the tree!

This tree is huge, as you can see in the picture. If you know the park at Fort San Jose near the Malecon in Colonial Zone you will know the trees. This particular tree was huge. It looked like it was hit by some large storm and had a part that was cut away years past but it all grew up again. This tree was so nice. I wish I knew what type it was but the leaves made a nice brushing sound when the breeze hit them. The trunk was for sure to large to be huggable. This is one fine tree. If you get a chance just go and visit this tree. I’m sure it will know you were there just to see it.

I just could not fathom that there were no safety measures. Holding machetes and climbing a tree. Two of the men had hard hats and the others did not. Heres me grinding coconut shells using safety glasses and they’re chopping trees and using nothing. They all did have work gloves on. I guess they wanted to keep their hands soft..jejej. I had to take a picture of these men but I didn’t want to let them see me do that so the pictures didn’t turn out. The matte of the tree was too dense. Since I couldn’t get a good photo I had to share this with someone that would appreciate what I was seeing so I called back to Pennsylvania to tell my dad what I was seeing first hand. This was too good not to share with my daddy the tree surgeon.

Finally, the men finished hacking at that tree. They left the cuts all ragged and frayed. We never did that. All had to be clean and the larger cuts had to be tarred. These men did nothing. Just hacked away at its poor tree and left it looking mangled. Then they picked up most of the fallen branches and moved on to the next tree to hack that one. Leaving me to get back and focus on my coconut grinding once again.

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