the beerable lightness of being

Pull the choke out. Grab the throttle. Pull the cord. Pull the cord. Pull, pull, pull the cord.

“You wouldn’t know I have a hernia,” he says.

Pull, pull, pull the, Pull, pull, pull pull pull waaa waaaaaaaaaaahhh aaah aaah aaah aah aaah, waaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH…

It has cooled off considerably. The wind is still strong out of the Northwest. We have about half an hour of daylight to go. The sky has turned yellow; the waves on the bay are translucent green.

He’s giving me a ride home, since I don’t have a car, and since I was helping him do something at the other end of the island. But first a neighbor has asked him to cut up a tree that blew across the driveway last night. There are no one-stop trips.

Besides overseeing everything I do, and overseeing all the maps and tax assessments and affordable housing projects and shellfish beds in the town, he does anything that involves small, gasoline-powered outdoor equipment, such as lawnmowers, chainsaws, snowblowers, weedwhackers, leafblowers, and so forth. Today it’s chainsaws.

But only chainsaws. In other words, no helmet, no facemask, no gloves, no leg-chaps—none of the safety equipment sane people use when chainsawing.

I move segments of trees out of the way as they become available, keeping a safe distance from the blade. Despite my premonitions, the chainsaw does not jump or skid out of his hands; it does not buck up into his face and deliver a hemispherical lobotomy; it does not go for the ankles and spray the ground with gore. The job is done in minutes.

“Fifty bucks,” he says. Silly rich person, not to own a chainsaw. We return to the truck and climb in.

“Wait a minute,” he says. “Hop out for a second and pull the seat forward.”

“I need a beer,” he explains. A beer from the bag of beers beneath my seat.

“It’s actually a really nice time of year,” he says. “It’s cold enough that you don’t have to worry about keeping them cold, but it’s not so cold you have to worry about them freezing. All you need’s a plastic bag.”

We drive off, beers in hand. It feels like watching a football game, but instead of a couch there’s the seat of a truck; instead of a game there’s a road. We roll through it at twenty miles an hour, into the night.

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1 Response to “the beerable lightness of being”


  1. 1 jenlinnan December 4, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    A++ for

    1) hysterical chainsaw onomatopoeia

    2) shellfish bed supervision

    3) the idea of chainsaws going for the ankles


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