Rain, fallen trees and chainsaws – Spring in Western Pa.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Thanks to the noise of the wind-driven rain, the endless splash of mud puddles and the smacking sound of my wipers, the truck radio was barely audible. But the rich voice of country crooner Luke Bryan would not be denied. So despite the deafening aquatic symphony I was able to make out the chorus of one of Luke’s smash hits “Rain is a Good Thing.”

Oh the irony.

Rain is, in fact, a good thing. But the soaking we’ve been getting since early 2018 is a menace. The drive I was making while Luke serenaded me was a semi-emergency run to help a family member plagued by a fallen tree.

When I arrived at the scene I found a twisted mass of wild cherry dislodged at its roots by a small mudslide. Before meeting a flooded asphalt driveway — the tree’s final resting place— it infiltrated the arms of a sugar-maple sapling to make a dangerous salad; mixed greens and heavy timber dressed liberally with mud and a million gallons of rainwater. There I stood, chainsaw in hand, ready to consume it.

That blowdown was “it” for me. It was at the top of my skill and experience level and I knew it. So I went to work and, with safety as my first priority, chewed my way through the mess. In short order my mission was accomplished; all (human) limbs still attached.

Since super-saturated soils, rain soaked foliage and frequent cloudbursts seem to be our new normal around the ‘burgh, fallen trees are becoming just as common. Consequently, my hardware store has been selling more chainsaws than ever and although we love selling them, we do so with strong words of caution.

A chainsaw is one of the most dangerous tools most of us will ever handle and cutting trees is one of the most dangerous chores in which we may ever engage. For that reason, it’s important to get some personal instruction and hands on experience before tackling even the simplest chainsaw task.

Equally important is knowing and staying within your skill limitations.

Keep in mind, saw safety means recognizing not just the function and dangers of the tool, but also tree species, weather conditions, power lines, obstructions, structures, mud, root tangles, oh, and don’t forget the maturity, skill and intelligence of any helpers you may have. Ignoring any of those factors may be tragic, even deadly.

Not interested in chainsaw work? That’s okay, too. Our area is fortunate to have many high-quality tree services which are only a phone call away. Using them will keep you safe inside, maybe listening to the radio where you will hear nice songs like “Sunshine of my Shoulders” by John Denver or “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb. But, be forewarned that if you tune into country radio you may here Luke Bryan singing about how, for him, rain is a good thing — even though we are well aware that there can be too much of a good thing.