Men In Trees

Sometimes we hear them splinter and fall, but usually we simply discover them when we step outside for the morning paper.

Dead limbs have been breaking free from their parent trees and dropping on our lawn during storms ever since we moved to Williamstown in 2011. This has led us to regularly cast worried eyes at some of the trees that are particularly close to our house. We wonder about their health and wonder if our home is safe.

Finally we decided to ask the folks at Main’s Tree Care to undertake a careful walkaround to assess the likihood that someday some really large and heavy chunk of wood might come plopping down onto our roof and, in the worst case scenario, wreak havoc on life, limb, and our living space.

Consider the giant overhanging branch in the photograph below — the one with a man barely visible in its upper reaches.

Calling it a mere “branch” seems like a misnomer; it’s actually more like a second trunk, since it’s fully half of a formidable tree that forks only a few feet from the ground. That man you can barely see at treetop is Danny Main, who showed us the indications of weakness that are visible where the trunk divides.

Small plants have taken root in the internal rotting wood. The companion portion of the tree that rises up toward the sky is healthy enough to last quite a while, in Danny’s opinion, but gravity is likely to tug on the less healthy portion that already leans too precariously for comfort. A future Hurricane Irene, or even a lesser storm with unusually strong winds, is likely to split the leaning half of the fork away from its stump. Unfortunately, our house will be directly underneath it, waiting to absorb the blow.

None of the other trees in our yard represent quite that level of threat, but several of them that have limbs overhanging our roof have already shown themselves to be disturbingly brittle. So Danny and his crew have been spending several days identifying the especially problematic limbs and climbing up to cut them down before they can do any damage.

And boy, can those guys climb trees!

Colleagues on the ground work with the chainsaw-wielding fellow above to make sure that each limb that gets cut away is guided with ropes so that it falls safely where they want it to fall.
Below: a long shot of the experts in action.
Smaller limbs are brought down before the larger ones are tackled.
These guys take care that the debris is cleared away.
A truck carts off the leafy brush. Thicker portions of the limbs and trees will be split and stacked for later use in our fireplace.

The climber shown below is amazingly agile. Sometimes he swings between branches like Tarzan with his heavy chainsaw dangling, always near at hand when it’s needed. No acrophobia in evidence here! Eddie and I are glad he keeps himself tethered to a safety harness for good measure, though.

The smaller limbs get trimmed away from the central branch that looms over our house.
Then the core branch is cut down bit by bit, in segments…
…until the job is finished….
…and abundant fireplace logs are ready for next winter’s fires.

Jekyll & Hyde: The Body Art

Fourteen years ago I was asked to contribute a drawing based on some work of literature to a web site devoted to similar drawings by a wide range of artists. I chose to use Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as my jumping-off place. You can see the full set of drawings that resulted from this solicitation at the colorfully named site Hey, Oscar Wilde! It’s Clobberin’ Time.

I enjoyed doing the drawing, but I certainly didn’t imaging that it might eventually have an afterlife as an adornment to someone’s canvas of flesh. So I was surprised and flattered when Adam Nagy of the B’Z Ink Tattoo Shop in Troy, MI, wrote to ask my permission for him to adapt my 1999 drawing as a tattoo design.

Naturally I said yes, amazed as I was that anyone would feel like mimicking one of my crosshatched extravaganzas with such a different set of skills and tools.

But Adam is nothing if not visually ambitious, as you can see from the many examples of his work displayed on his Facebook page.

Dog News

Piper Jacobs (seen in the striped pants below) and her family brought the family dog Jax (seen in the red collar below) over recently to share a play date in our back yard with our canine family member Molly (seen in the barely perceptible blue collar below).

The two dogs ran and ran and ran and ran. They also romped and romped and romped and romped in between running jags. The rest of us watched and watched and watched and watched.

The dogs also relieved themselves a time or two during all the running and romping, but I refrained from documenting that aspect of their yardplay time out of respect for their privacy. No paparazzo am I, as tempting as it might be to sell photographs of their less dignified moments to the National Enquirer!

Above: I almost got a shot of Jax and Molly running, but I missed it.


And while I’ve got dogs on my mind, I’ll indulge in a moment of nostalgia for our dear, departed Foxy, who succumbed to cancer a decade ago and who was the only one of Eddie’s and my three canine companions who went in for three-way kisses (see below).
Hey, here’s stuff of mine that you can buy!

Click a cover below to learn about my two self-published books.

…and click here to visit my

Cruse Goodies merchandise shop

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About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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One Response to Men In Trees

  1. Martha Thomases says:

    Glad to see your house is safe from wayward tree-parts, and that you had a crew of cute guys to do the work.