by Nelson Holmes
GARDNER- It′s amazing to me how, we as a species, become so comfortable with potentially lethal technologies. I recall driving in L.A , flowing with traffic moving faster than the posted limit, while juggling a 55 gallon mega-Gulp and a leaky burrito which threatened at every moment to scar my attire with its hot and greasy contents. The fact that these distractions are occurring while racing through traffic at 80 miles an hour in a sheet metal box was a complete abstraction; mortal, moi?
This bit of philosophizing was occasioned by my ritual fall re-acquaintance with the chain saw.
I will confess that I′m an easily distracted soul. I can concentrate, almost obsessively, when forced to but my natural state of consciousness is a bit more scattered. I like to think of myself as an eccentric with an active mind but a mental health professional might call it ADHD. Now, I′m well aware of the dangers posed by sharp objects, especially mechanized ones. Shortly after arriving in Colorado a good friend, well versed in the ways of the chain saw, saw fit to offer some instruction. After weathering his head-shaking and his repeated observations that I′m a “flatlander” I honed some minor ability and, at the very least, operated the saw carefully.
Now, years (and many hours with the saw) later, I have become a danger to myself. I should have taken the attire I chose to sport as a warning sign that I′ve gotten way too comfy with the saw: cargo shorts, t-shirt and Crocs. Not an ensemble I′ve ever seen a lumber jack sport and one I will forgo in the future. But, the day was warm and I figured I was only going to be at it until my tank ran dry; 30 minutes, tops. So, I started honing logs into manageable chunks with abandon.
As I was cutting I observed that the bar oil laden saw dust was clinging to my exposed body in an irritating fashion. Mortal danger and and my own culpability in the matter wasn′t even a blip on my mental radar. As I was cutting I noticed the chain was a little loose so I distractedly set the saw aside, chain still spinning to a stop, against my left shin. The crimson began to run in rivulets through the saw dust caked on my leg and for a moment I expected that my flesh would peel away like the meat from an over done pork roast.
Lucky me, the wound was minor. The moment had caused my adrenal gland to contract and all the associated parasympathetic fight or flight responses began to color my perspective. My attire, the fact that I was alone, and the possibility that the remnants of my bloated, vulture mangled, carcass might not be found for a day or two all rekindled the notion that a chainsaw, is indeed, a dangerous tool.
So, I offer my little experience as a fitting reminder that we are easily distracted and fragile creatures. Since many of us will be engaged in the annual woodland waltz with our saws I implore you all to dress for the occasion.