Three trees

Silence reigns on this early morning. Dusk sets in while I, sitting by the fire, still hold my cup of coffee in my hands. There is twilight and I am introverted. It is a special morning. Today three trees are to fall. By my hand. They are the same age as I am. A coincidence…

The twilight is fading. The time has come. I calmly put the empty cup on the table. Calmly I leave the house. I go into the shed, slowly undress and dress again with cut-proof clothes. The trousers, the jacket and the shoes. Outside, the world appears in a rosy light. A few birds greet the day. It is a very fresh, very clear, a very new day.

I walk silently and slowly to the trees. I touch them in friendship. I look up at them. They have to go. That’s the way I’ve decided. Slowly, year by year, they claimed more and more light for themselves. Slowly, year by year, it got darker in our house. I know they know what is coming. I know they know more than I do and they are ready to go. Coming and going. Both are part of being. They have known this since the beginning of their existence and they are ready.

I go back to the shed. I get the ladder and the rope. I take them to the trees. I get the chainsaw, the gasoline, and the oil. I’ll get the blue hearing protection. And the axe and the wedge. All this I lay on the table in front of the shed. A slow and serious ritual. Awareness. Focusing on what is to come. Today three firs will go. By my hand… I fill the saw with gasoline and oil. I check the sharpness and tension of the chain. All the things on the table I now carry behind the trees. I want them to see everything. I want them to get ready. I put the ladder against the first tree, take the long rope and tie it to the trunk at a height of a few meters. I climb down and walk with the rope in the direction I want the tree to fall. In the direction I have decided to go. I pull the rope tight and tie it to the trunk of another tree. It will guide the fir tree and help it fall in the right direction. There is only a very slight tension on the rope. Very gently and carefully it should guide the tree. I go back. Once again I touch the living tree.

I put on the hearing protection. Immediately it becomes quiet around me. Even more silent than it had actually already been before. It is wonderful this absolute silence. I want to sit down, close my eyes and spend the rest of the day only in this silence. Far away from everything else that is happening.

But that is not possible today. Everything has its time. I check once again the direction in which the tree should fall. It is so quiet. So wonderfully quiet…I perceive everything only with my eyes. It all seems so different when no sound accompanies it.

I start the chainsaw according to the instructions. Engage chain brake. Switch to cold start position. Pull starter rope once. Engine bubbles once dully. Switch to choke position. Pull starter rope. The engine starts to whine. Quickly move switch to operating position. The engine calms down and runs slowly. Take out chain brake. The saw is ready.

It is no longer quiet. I hear the saw. A dull, whirring sound. Now it’s going to happen. I take it to the tree and make a horizontal cut on the fall side. Something a quarter of the trunk thickness deep. Now I make a cut 45 degrees down above it. The two cuts meet. A wedge-shaped piece of log falls out to the ground. Now the direction is finally determined. There is no turning back. The giant, 25 meters high and weighing tons, must now fall and end its earthly existence. We both know it and I ask that he will not make it difficult for me. I go to the back of the tree and make another horizontal cut at the height of the wedge. I am now taking away the tree’s stability. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. In a few seconds the colossus is standing on only a ten centimeter wide piece of its trunk. It has become a huge pendulum because of me, and I am standing directly under it.

I look up and the tree seems so infinitely large. How presumptuous I am in what I am doing.

I hear the saw and I hear my breath. I ask for the pendulum to swing true. I feel my pulse… And then it begins. I feel it more than I see it. The mighty one tilts. Slowly, very slowly, it moves out of the vertical. I turn off the chainsaw – silence – and slowly take a few steps back. The tree tilts as if in slow motion. And just as it is about to speed up, it touches the ground. It is quiet under my hearing protection. I only feel the dull impact through the ground in my body.

Silence. I take off the hearing protection. I look at the work and am grateful, full of humility and happy. I walk along the length of the tree and look at its top. It seems so strange to me that this top, which just a moment ago was enthroned at a height of over 20 meters and towered over everything, which only let the birds and the squirrels come to it, is here at my feet and I can now touch it with my hands, when minutes ago it was so distant and unreachable. It is so far out of her element here on the floor… I thank it.

I go back into the shed and change clothes. I put on a pair of light work pants, go back and pick up the axe. Rhythmically, blow by blow, standing sometimes next to, sometimes above the trunk, I now limb the fallen tree. I don’t take the saw for this. It would be easier, but I feel I owe it to the tree to give some of my sweat and blood for killing it. So I swing the axe in my sweat and branch after branch is separated from the trunk. Starting at the bottom and ending where the highest crown used to be. The branches are so amazingly many and so amazingly heavy. I take them and carry them into a pile.

Now the trunk is exposed. It is naked and only a tree in memory. I measure the trunk in meter length with a piece of wood. Mark the distances with a blow with the axe. I change the clothes back once again – hearing protection – silence -, saw, start process – and divide the trunk into meter pieces.

This is how I proceed with the other two trees that day. Same age, same size, like the first one. One after the other.

That evening I have to walk through the forest. Slowly, silently, touched by a strange feeling. Three trees are gone. All three planted in the year of my birth. All three knew of coming and of going. It was a sublime day. A day when they told me many things. A day when I received their blessings and they shared the mysteries of life with me, leaving through me. I walk, with my head down and my hands in my pockets. Suddenly I find myself standing in front of an old juniper. Much, much older than the three trees or me. I smile and sit down at its feet. I rest in peace. Thank you. Thank you for allowing this day to be so good.

Pain must never be allowed to guide us. Our actions grow out of the fearless knowledge of our security in the meaning, of our soulfulness and of the eternal unity of everything. We always act in love for everything and everyone. There is no inner separation. Pain alone must never guide us.

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