Sunday, July 29, 2007

This is something I started writing awhile back and I figured I'd post it and see how it reads...

I'm looking out the window at one of my neighbors, an army reservist who did some ungodly amount of time in Afganistan and Iraq and came back with one arm intact. The guy used to tinker a lot, work around the house, now they don't have much hope for his rehab because he just wanders off and putters, one handed, around his property.

The other day I saw him dragging in long branches from the ice storm and piling them into brush piles, maybe for the rabbits to play in or something. This day was different, he looked different. Then I spotted what he'd added to his arm, the stump of which now sported a small electric hedge saw and he was using a battery pack to power it as he sliced through the brambles and branches until he reached the larger branches, whole trunks of elm toppled by the weight of tons of ice last winter. Most were at least 6 inches across. Sorry, neighbor, time to call in the big boys.

Then he walked back to his big white truck and fiddled around in the back. He turned around and was now sporting a small 2 cycle chain saw, about 14 inches. Sorry, trees. He's back! And in a few minutes he had chopped and sawn his way around the debris pile, making order out of chaos. I could see how he had pilled up kindling against the winter, how fence posts and garden posts were stacked up to dry, and the brambly stuff was piled up for the rabbits. When he needed to switch to a different tool he would walk back to the truck until he eventually had finished the job. The chipper attachment bothered me, but he must have been wearing ear plugs because he never blinked or flinched, not even with the big stuff.

Now I'm afraid to talk to him when I see him in town. He wears his army issue arm in town and I find myself staring at it. My wife thinks I'm being rude and my attempts to explain don't sound very reasonable. I did try this morning to talk to him, but he just wanted to talk about solar rechargable oil-cooled tools and appliances. He went on about all the panels he had around his property, all wired into a box in his house, in his garage, even down by his fish pond, for the extension trimmer he built. He showed it to me. Don't get me wrong, I like ingenuity and stick-to-it-ness, but he began to sound like a salesman.

That's when I thought about my other neighbors, what a great bunch of guys and gals they all are, mostly. But also somewhat easily influenced, especially with tools and toys. I know soon one of them will slip up and have their arm replaced with a 4 cycle Stihl/Lumber-King Sawmill all powered by methane, also locally produced. Propane heating grills and flame throwers for weed control while making a great burger! I can almost smell the smoke.

This could be such a bad summer, and it's already just begining.