Sometimes power tools are a girl’s best friend

By Geri Dreiling

Original garden bushes

It is said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I beg to differ. In my experience, nothing beats a chainsaw. Fire one up – or in my power-tools-with-training-wheels example – plug it into an outlet and push a button. Then you’ll discover the joy that comes with wielding a tree-chopping, debris-clearing weapon.

My crush on the chainsaw really took off this past summer. Divorcing when your kids are teens triggers an early onset of empty nest syndrome. They spend half of their time with their father. And when they are with me, they’re headed off to the mall, out with friends, to jobs and to sporting activities in their own cars. In other words, they’re moving forward in their lives – as they should.

The free time that I once longed for can sometimes feel like a curse. I spent years and years yearning for time to myself. Suddenly, it fell into my lap and I had no idea what to do with it. I already work a lot. I love to write but even I need a break from my desk. I exercise. I don’t enjoy cleaning my house.

But I love gardening. Spending time outside is always a treat for me. Seeing results from my efforts and sitting on my back porch with a cup of coffee while admiring my yard is a cherished pleasure. Unfortunately, my yard has limped along with minimal attention the past several years.

Indeed, parts of it are more like a Hollywood movie lot. Ornamental shrubs and trees that look healthy and vibrant from the front are barren in the back due to crowding from too much vegetation. Tree weeds – a curse in my yard – as well items the previous owners of my home had planted but that I let get out of control were all competing for the same space.

And so this summer, after spending too much time simply wringing my hands, I took action. I donned my big, white, floppy hat and a pair of work gloves. I plugged in the chainsaw I found in the garage and began to cut. I was timid at first, choosing small branches that yielded easily to my will. But success begat success. I moved on to bigger branches and then to tree trunks. I entered “the zone” with my chainsaw and, when I was done, I had a bonfire-sized mound of debris in my yard.

Branches cut with chainsaw

Maybe I got a little too carried away. Where once there had been thick clumps of thin trees and clusters of green, there were now sticks jutting out of the ground and lots of empty space. But my shrubs and trees could breathe.

“Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better,” I told myself. But I won’t really know for a while. Right now, I can only wait and watch.

Well, maybe not. I’m tired of waiting for things to happen. There are more do-it-yourself projects involving big tools calling my name.

Shrubs and tress now breathe