A birthday hack

By David Lindeman

Contributing Columnist

When you’re young, people never have a problem getting you a birthday present. Basketballs, bicycles, baseball gloves and I guess today things like cell phones are easy choices.

But as you get older, it gets a little harder. What would I do with a new basketball or baseball glove? I do need a new phone, my 10-year-old one is dying, but I only use it to make calls and get texts so my children would be embarrassed buying such a low-end electronic device.

But this year there really was something I wanted. I came up with the idea over the winter as I looked into my back yard and saw that the honeysuckle bushes had creeped even farther into my yard.

So for my birthday, my family bought me … a chain saw.

I have to qualify this a bit here. They didn’t get me a manly, big gas-powered chain saw that makes that satisfying angry noise you can hear miles away. You see, I’m just a little bit afraid of a real chain saw. My family is even more afraid of what might happen if I fired one up. So they bought me one of those battery-powered rechargeable chainsaws.

It’s just a little thing, really, but it is the perfect size to whack away at bushes. I’m not going to cut down any trees with it – that’s what I have sons for.

I couldn’t wait to give it a try. The day after my birthday, I read a few lines of the instructions (but not much – real men don’t read instructions, you’re just supposed to naturally know how these kinds of things work). Then I hooked up the battery and got started.

Here’s the thing about this kind of chain saw. Instead of that ba-rrroom weoww kind of noise a big chain saw makes, it makes a little whiny kind of sound, kind of like a deranged leaf blower. But sounds can be deceiving – it cuts through the bushes like … well, like a chain saw through wood.

The bushes I am attacking are made up of very soft wood, so I am able to do maximum damage in a short amount of time. My confidence builds, and when I stumble across a small tree that has died I take that on, too. No problem. I slash and cut and see myself as a worthy ancestor of the pioneers who cleared entire forests using only dull axes, without batteries to plug into them.

After an hour or so, my battery starts to lose power, which is convenient because I am starting to lose power myself. So I decide to take a break. I look back at where I have been and realize I have failed to consider an important point – someone has to clean up all that wood and branches and other flotsam and jetsam I have left behind. It looks like a tornado has gone through a small swath of my backyard. I decide on the only sensible option available to me at this point – I go inside and get some lunch and take a break.

Fortified with leftover pizza from my birthday dinner the night before, I return to the yard. It took me a little more than an hour to cut a bunch of stuff down; it takes me three times that long to cut it up and get it into some semblance of order so I can dispose of it someday.

Back in the early days of Ohio when men were men and women were even tougher, they would do all this by hand, use the wood to build houses and barns and then burn whatever was left. They pretty much eliminated an entire frontier of trees in a generation. I’m just trying to knock out a few bushes. It’s a good thing I wasn’t born 250 years ago.

Both the chain saw and I are getting recharged – as it turns out, it will be ready to go back to work long before I will.

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected]