Trees, chainsaws and fast-talking men

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

Dan and I have a Peruvian friend who takes down trees for a living. His name is Ruffino. We don’t know his last name. He is a busy man who speaks quickly and while his English is certainly better than our Spanish, there are times when none of us are quite sure what’s going on. It doesn’t matter. The sun shines, jobs are done and everyone smiles.

Last winter Ruffino told Dan he had a “Bobby Cat” (Bobcat) for sale. It was a good price and Dan was interested. “I will sell it to you, my friend,” said Ruffino, “but remember to be careful. It has no brakes.” That could be a big drawback, but Dan knows his way around most machinery, so he bought the cat, found the brakes, had them fixed and has been happy ever since. Whenever we see Ruffino he says, “How’s my Bobby Cat doing?”

For a while now Dan’s been watching a huge pine tree that leans precariously close to one of his wood kilns. Taking down this massive tree was a job for an expert and last Sunday Ruffino arrived near the kiln with a telescopic bucket truck, three chain saws, ropes, tools and a helper.

Ruffino sharpens one of the chainsaws

The guys immediately got to work, sorting out various types of rope, some of which they threw into the tree and secured with complicated knots, sharpening three chainsaws and checking lots of mysterious metal tools. While they worked, I mentioned I’d always thought it would be fun to ride in the bucket. Ruffino said, “You want to ride in the bucket? You can ride in the bucket. Come, we go now.” Nimbly Ruffino chambered onto the truck and into the bucket. I cautiously followed.

Waving at Dan as we go up

Within the bucket was a small chainsaw which Ruffino handed to me. As I held on with my remaining hand, the bucket started upwards. Whenever there were limbs that would hinder the tree’s descent, Ruffino asked for the saw and limbs would start to fly. He had a plan, but I didn’t know what the plan was. It is possible he told me the plan but it was lost in translation. Never knowing which limb was going where, I dodged as best I could. I pointed out ropes of poison ivy, but Ruffino ignored them. I dodged more, sometimes behind Ruffino. All of this was accompanied by a stream of English interspersed with Spanish. Between flying limbs, chainsaw issues and unexpected forwards, backwards and sideways moves, there was never a dull moment.

Hard hats? We don’t wear hard hats. Gloves? Who wears gloves? Goggles? Why? Was it safe? Not entirely. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

This was an exhilarating ride in the sky, an unexpected dream come true, a perfect Indiana Jones experience filled with adventure laced with a small dash of danger. My advice, friends, is that if you ever had a chance to ride in a bucket with a fast-talking Peruvian, take it. For a more comfortable, less dangerous experience, consider procuring a hard hat, some gloves, and goggles. I promise that you’ll have fun. Many thanks, friend Ruffino, for taking me flying.

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.


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