Life and Limb

You really could not pay me enough to do this kind of work:

That was the view from my back deck a couple of days ago, as crews removed two stately, gigantic white oaks from the lot of my neighbor to the rear.  A third massive oak had blown over during Hurricane Irene, quite close to their house, so I guess the homeowners figured they didn’t want to chance it with these other two.  I am very sad to see them go, but have been thoroughly transfixed by the precarious process of removal.

Being afraid of heights, I cannot even imagine scaling a tree that large.  I don’t care how many ropes are attached to me or how big the spikes on my boots — it’s terrifying.  I’d always thought that tree removal of this magnitude could only be done with a cherry-picker and a crane, but these guys were doing it freestyle. 

In the picture below, you can see the huge piece of branch that the crewman just cut as it plunges to the ground.  Ropes are attached to these pieces before they’re cut so that they won’t crash into the roof of the house, but then they swing wildly back and forth before they hit the ground, sometimes coming close to knocking the climber out of the tree.  Ack!!!

Here’s a closer shot of the climber, with his chainsaw dangling from a rope: 

Just looking at these pictures makes my stomach queasy and my palms sweaty.  Not surprisingly, tree trimming is one of the most dangerous — and most unregulated — jobs out there.   And of course we all know the quality of work varies immensely from crew to crew — and that good work costs.

I honestly can’t imagine the price tag for removing those huge oak trees.  (They’re not done yet — they’ve already been at it for 3 days and still aren’t finished.)  Last year, we had a mature ash tree fall in a storm, and it cost us $1000 to get it all cut up and hauled away.  That price may have been inflated since it was a bit of an emergency (the tree actually fell right in front of my neighbor’s front door — oops!) but it seems that even a nice crown thinning on a large tree often pushes a grand.

I hope that guy who’s climbing those huge white oaks is getting some serious cash for risking his life, but I sure am glad it’s not coming out of my pocket.