If the trees or the squirrels ever get their act together, I’m certain that I will be one of the first people on the planet to wake up with a horse’s head in my bed – courtesy of the maple mafia.
Not only do I work for a magazine that encourages 220,000 other people to slaughter spruces, but I personally have a lot of sap on my hands. Since we moved into our house 11 years ago, I have ordered the killing of three trees (a fourth died at the hands of a wind storm, I swear). And I’ve also taught a few trees “a lesson” by having a few branches here and there snapped by arborists-for-hire.
Last week, I ordered the ash tree in our front yard be taken out. This was a hard call to make. For the tulip poplar in the back yard that I had dismembered seven years ago, I had no love. That deciduous demon chucked a branch through the windshield of my beloved Honda Civic.
But the ash tree was a loyal shade-giver that had gone bad. Recently, it started chucking loose limbs – first at dogs that soiled its trunk, later on at neighborhood kids walking up the sidewalk. So I made a call (actually, I had Lucy do it). I had them do the job while I was at work.
After the body was removed, I volunteered to clean up the piles of sawdust with a rake and shovel. It was no small task, and I scurried around the stump scratching furiously at the dirt and weeds.
After a few minutes I started laughing. Not because I was dancing around like a ground squirrel on Bugger Sugar, but because I wouldn’t (or couldn’t) step on the stump itself as I worked.
There’s a lesson in here, somewhere, really.
Here it is: Senior Editor Glen Huey and I were talking this week about all the stupid things we’d done when learning woodworking. We agreed that the single-most idiotic thing we had both done was avoiding making cabriole legs for years and years too long.
Cabriole legs – the Queen Anne equivalent of a hitchhiking cartoon fox sticking out her shapely leg to stop a car – seem hard. They are, however, quite simple to make. And once you make one, your reaction is: Huh, that’s it? That’s what I was afraid of all those years?
It’s not just cabriole legs that woodworkers fear, it almost everything new. We recoil at anything with curves, inlay or angles other than 90°. (Ever wonder why Art & Crafts and Shaker are the two most popular furniture styles in woodworking magazines?)
With this thought, I dropped the rake. I stepped up on the stump. I looked around.
The neighborhood looked different from that slightly elevated point. In fact, I almost could see the trees forming a lynch mob at the end of my street.
— Christopher Schwarz