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Adventures of Ron Huckleberry...#13 Ron helps Granddaddy cut-down a big tree
It’s a cool clear day and Ron has been helping Granddaddy do some cleaning in the garden. The front and back gardens are quite huge, as is with many older houses. Granddaddy remarked to Tommy Joe, a young black man that helps Granddaddy do gardening, that they need to remove three trees before winter.
Ron watched Tommy Joe as he carefully decided just how he was going to cut the largest of the three trees. Tommy Joe explained that a tree will fall just as you plan for it to fall and if you don’t have a good plan it might just fall where you don’t want it to fall. Tommy Joe estimated how tall it stood and then paced off this distance to see just exactly where it would fall on the ground.
He then explained to Ron that he will cut out a notch at an angle on the side of the tree that he wants to hit the ground. “Then when I begin sawing on the other side of the tree, the weight of the tree will move towards the missing notch’s hole…where there is the least resistance.” Tommy Joe explained. Sure enough, when he slowly sawed on the side opposite the notch hole, the big tree creaked and very slowly began to fall over. Tommy Joe was good and the tree fell between two other trees and almost exactly on the intended spot.
It’s Friday and by the time Tommy Joe cut the tree into smaller pieces and stacked the wood in the back yard, it was getting late. He told Granddaddy he would return Monday afternoon.
Those who know Ron would guess what’s going on in his head. He is genuinely a fine 12 year old kid, but extremely bull-headed. Perhaps this is his way of retaliating towards the womanly supervision he has received since age 10, when his dad died. He dearly loves his mom, grandmother, Aunt Ann and Aunt Jane. At home his mom works full time and Ron is cared for by a house-maid.
When Ron’s dad died he lived with Grandmother for a year. Aunt Jane (who lives a mile from Grandmother) is a teacher and Ron was in her class for a year. Aunt Ann is not married and works in a hospital in the city, but stays with grandmother each weekend.
They all love Ron dearly. That’s the problem. He feels he can never do anything the other boys do because they love him too much and worry too much that he will get hurt. He isn’t even allowed to join the other kids when they go to the farmer’s lake to swim. He might drown.
Soon after Grandmother and Granddaddy went into town the next morning to do shopping, Ron was in the yard during some heavy math as Tommy Joe had explained. Ron luckily chooses the smaller of the two trees chosen to be cut down. It is nearer the long front porch, but Ron calculates there is plenty of room for it to safely fall.
Ron was a bit nervous, but really felt that he could manage this job by himself. He walked back and forth several times estimating where he needed the tree to hit-the-ground. He even tied a rope on the tree side opposite the porch…and then tied the rope to another tree. His plan was to insure the tree would not lean towards the porch.
Then he did just as Tommy Joe did. He kneeled on the ground where he wanted the tree to hit and looked directly at the tree. He eyeballed the spot on the tree where he would remove the notch. He then used the saw and removed the notch. He then went to the back side of the tree and began to saw opposite and a bit above the notch. Ron was wet with sweat from working and from nervousness. He must finish this job before Grandmother and Granddaddy return.
Ron felt the tree would soon begin to creak. Sure enough it did. Ron was a bit scared. What if he had miscalculated? Maybe he should wait for Granddaddy. No, he would prove to everyone he could do this job alone. Finally he decided to finish the job. He slowly continued to saw.
Very slowly the tall tree began to move and fall. Ron backed up to watch the tree fall. All seemed to be going well. The tree seemed to be falling exactly in the direction he wanted it to.
As it fell and neared the ground there was a tremendous crash against the porch. Ron suddenly turned just as the gutter was being torn from the porch. Poor Ron had not calculated for the huge over- hanging high limb to clear the porch. The tree trunk hit almost exactly as Ron had planned, but he had not looked up to the top of the tree and measured the width of the limbs.
Ron felt so sick. He knew it was not going to be a good day for him. As he waited for Grandmother and Granddaddy to return he just sat and cried.
When his grandparents parked near the garage they had not seen the mess. Ron figured he had better go to them and try to explain the sad situation before they saw it first. When he did his Grandmother just dropped a sack of groceries and sat back into the car. After a few moments Granddaddy walked with Ron to the porch and inspected the damage.
For sure Granddaddy was upset, but he maintained his cool much better than Ron expected. “Ron, do you realize how lucky you and we are? Do you realize that if the tree had fallen even inches closer to the house the entire porch would be destroyed? We’re lucky that only the smaller part of the huge limbs hit the gutter. More important…do you realize that you could have been badly hurt? Do you know how mush work it will be to repair the gutter and porch?
Granddaddy was 75 years old and was a retired Methodist preacher. Strict discipline was the main word when he was a child. Ron had hear stories of how strict he was with his four children (Ron’s dad, Ron’s uncle, Aunt Jane and Aunt Ann). All of the children, especially the boys, frequently got a belting. Granddaddy wanted Ron to participate with the other children more, but he was outnumbered by the four women. He did love Ron dearly and often sat with Ron and told him stories of yesteryear
Ron, I grew up on a farm and I too got into a lot of trouble doing things I knew I should not have done. But I grew up on the farm and learned everything from the bottom up. You just don’t know how dangerous everyday life is on the farm, because you only visit here in the summer.
I want to use the belt on your bottom and legs, but I think I won’t. Instead, you…and you alone are going to cut that entire tree into small pieces and clean up every single leaf.
On top of this you are going to bed now…with out any supper. You go tell Grandmother Goodnight…and I do not want to see you until in the morning.
“OK, Granddaddy, I know I deserve it.” Ron wanted to give Granddaddy a hug and kiss as he did every night, but this night he felt it best to get to his room quickly.
© Gene Hudgens
Revised 7 Jul 08 per critique from Ellen Dodson
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