Early this morning, a bug-like piece of machinery (actually a crane) appeared in our yard. A crew of men had arrived in a caravan of trucks bearing all the equipment needed to take down the old oak tree (the big trunk the machine is pointing toward). Its suboptimal health had been obvious ever since a massive branch had fallen from it, damaging the house.
Tree removal is suspenseful, dangerous work. We have known Zac Mann, of The Tree Mann, for many years. Two years ago, he’d come out and looked at the tree. It was at least 50 feet tall and still had most of its crown. Its leaves, though, were small. The fact that one of its main arms had fallen off (maybe 30 feet off the ground) suggested that its core was going. Whether this cherished old tree would break down anytime soon, no one could say. Once Mr C had decided it should come down, though, I entirely endorsed his decision.
Fortunately, Zac and his men knew what they were doing. They strapped a big winch to the tree trunk and used rope from it to guide the big branches down as they were sawn off. As the branches came down, we could see that some of their centers were rotten.
The diciest moment came as the tree men planned how to fell the massive trunk. So far, they had made good on their promise to spare the mature dogwood growing at the base of the trunk. The crew wanted the trunk to fall away from the house and down the slope, without bouncing or rolling. They put a big piece of the tree on the ground in the direction that they wanted the tree to fall. This log would also keep the lip of terrace from breaking when the tree came down.
They had left a rope up in the main fork of the tree to pull when the base was ready to topple.
Then Zac, with a chain saw, began cutting large wedges from the very base of the tree. A couple of these wedges appear at left in the photo above. He continued to slice away. The heavy old trunk gave no sign of moving.
Suddenly, like a loose tooth, the old tree was gone. The crew, including several apprentices, who had scattered into invisibility, now silently reappeared at the edge of the yard. They stood in awe of the fatal surgery. Everyone was very still and quiet, as a huge claw grasped the trunk and neatly piled it and all the other pieces of the tree into a truck.
By the time they ground out the stump, swept up all the sawdust, and spread around some fresh dirt, it looked as though they had eaten the tree. That was how completely the oak vanished, about 3.