Log Cabin Chronicles

Swede saw

© 1997 John Mahoney

On the necessity of good books, Irish whiskey, and a roll of duct tape


after this summer there's no way I'll ever commence a vacation without a roll of duct tape, anymore than I would without a good book and a fresh jar of Irish whiskey.

All three will help you stick to it, vacation-wise.

For the past three summers we've borrowed a lovely small lot on Lake Seymour, down in Morgan, Vermont. In exchange, we keep the place up -- mow the grass and clip the suckers and whips. It's a good deal all the way around.

Mid-August was family vacation time. One son and his family of five had rented a cottage two lots down. Another and his family of five were going to park a long, high RV on our lot.

No big deal, except for the drooping branches of the big cedars. They would scrap hell out of the rented RV, thus causing untold grief and added expense.

The limbs were too high to reach from the ground.

Using a chainsaw over your head is dangerous, whether on a ladder or the bed of a pickup truck.

My chainsaw is kaput, I no longer own a truck, and I didn't have a ladder nor did the neighbor cottages.

Nor did I have a long-handled tree-limber's pruning saw and neither did the neighbors.

I continued to futz around during June and July, knowing I had to deal with the droopy branch problem but it was hot and the books were good, as was the Irish. Procrastination was the name of the game.

The night before my son was due to drive in with his wife and three daughters inspiration came for a brief visit.

All I needed to get rid of those branches was a roll of duct tape.

The general store in Derby, Vermont, had just what I needed -- a $3 roll of Duck Brand duct tape.

I lashed my 24-inch Sandvik swede saw [Caution: those blades are razor sharp] with four separate triple-turns of tape to a well-weathered 10-foot-long 2x2 I keep around for odd camp tasks.

Yessir, misterman, in a almost a flash I hand-crafted your basic user-safe high-and-droopy limb trimmer. Within an hour or so all potentially offending limbs within fifteen feet of the ground were on their way to becoming compost.

That was three weeks ago and, hell, you can barely see the scar on my left arm now.

Duct tape, folks -- don't go anywhere without it.


Copyright © John Mahoney 1997 /Log Cabin Chronicles/09.97