This article was originally posted June 13, 2011 by the Huntsman School Blog.
This weekend I went to my grandfather’s funeral. Among the people who spoke at the services was my dad’s youngest brother. One of the things he mentioned was how he always remembers his dad pruning the trees and trimming up the bushes and all kinds of other yard work. So when he got the news of his dad’s passing, the only thing he could think of to do was yard work, just like his dad would do. And after he did all the yard work he could think of (or rather, that his wife could think of), he got his kids to clean it all up, just like his dad would do.
It seems like every summer there was always some project to do in the yard. One summer we had to remove the brick wall, so they armed my brother and me with an air compressor and handheld jack hammers to bust the grout out from between the bricks. I think they paid us a dollar for every brick we extracted without breaking. The next summer, they paid us to build a patio using those same bricks.
It seemed like no matter what the project was, it always involved tearing out a tree or bush or something. That’s when I found my true calling. They armed me with a saw and I would scurry up the tree trunks and start dismantling the trees, relieving them of their soon-to-be extraneous limbs. Then we’d cut down the trunk until there was only about 4 feet of it left, then dig up as much of the roots as we could, and haul the stump out with a chain attached to the back of my dad’s truck. Awesome.
And it didn’t stop when I got a job either. Partly because I could always use some extra cash. Partly because I was cheaper than anyone else they could find. Partly because I still jump at the chance to use a saw.
One summer they even got me to re-roof their house. I’d get up at 5:00 a.m. and work until it got too hot at 11:00. I pretty much worked by myself, which probably wasn’t the smartest thing. But it took me pretty much all summer, May to August.
Even when they ran out of things for me to do at their house, they would volunteer me to do things at other peoples’ houses.
One summer I flew out to Ohio to visit my brother for a few days, and while he was there he had me take out a few trees from his backyard. His neighbors were a little surprised when I had to ask them to borrow a saw. They figured that everyone from the West was a logger and would naturally just travel with their own saw.
So as long as everyone was here for the funeral, we all went to town on my sister’s house, because she lives alone. We helped her paint the exterior of her house. We helped fix the little waterfall fountain in her backyard. We helped trim her hedge. I even got to take out a tree. I haven’t done that in a while. I should let my landlord know I’m willing to help, if he even needs it.
As long as I’m not taking a full course load, I may as well work.