Facing fears

I did something this afternoon that I've been postponing for more than a year. I got out the extension ladder, put it up a tree, and sawed off two rather large lower limbs that were shading the vegetable garden. The tree shouldn't miss them. It's a very large Sycamore Maple that has lost lower limbs before. We surmise that it was planted when the house was built, since that species of Acer, like the builder of the house, comes from Wales.

I don't like getting up on ladders. I used to mind it less, but the discomfort has grown as I've gotten older. It's a fear of falling from a height, of course, officially considered fear of heights or acrophobia. It's actually much worse when I have to climb up the side of the house. In that situation, it feels like there is nothing between me and the far away ground and nothing to grab onto. When I'm up against a strong tree branch, I feel more secure. Lots to grab onto there.

I went up there with our trusty Fat Max saw. There was a guy next door who is part of a house painting crew. We had said "hi" earlier as I was cleaning up last year's leaves, which got buried by snow very soon after they fell. He looked at me rather dubiously up in the tree, gnawing and sawing away at a good-sized limb. I stopped and said, "Yeah, I should have borrowed a chain saw, eh?" He nodded in agreement. But I went back to sawing.

Why the Fat Max? Well, if there's one thing I fear more than falling from a height, it's cutting myself. That's called aichmophobia, the fear of sharp objects. I overcome that fear almost every day when I cook. I've learned not to do any cutting in haste, since that's pretty much the only time I've ever cut myself. So I'm fine in the kitchen. I'm pretty much at ease with sharp knives. But I don't like power saws much. I'm OK with our circular saw. It's small. I feel that I can control it. And I'm careful. But a chain saw? It's big. I'm not small, but I feel like I don't have the strength to deal with it. Which is probably foolish, but fears aren't rational. Chain saws are powerful and noisy and, to my fearful mind, itching to take off a finger along with a tree branch. No thanks! I went for the exercise. At least the branches were such that I could cut off one using my left arm and one using my right. A balanced arm workout!

Both limbs were a little bigger than I thought. The first crashed harmlessly to the ground before I was finished sawing, although it came too close for comfort to my little Saskatoon bush. The second seemed smaller, but it crashed in a weird way and took out the back of a bench that was below the tree. Silly of me not to move it, although it was fairly rotten already. Wood that's not part of a tree doesn't last all that long in this climate.

So I survived. And I was proud of myself! There's actually one more smaller branch that I would like to get, but the other two limbs are kind of in the way of putting up the ladder again. So now I think I'll need to put an ad on Craigslist or something. Anyone have a chain saw who wants mostly kindling but a few larger pieces? The wood is free!


MFA Mama said...

I *hate* heights! Although strangely enough I don't mind them a bit if I know I won't fall. Observation deck of a skyscraper? Hell yes. 300-ft climbing wall, with a harness on? Sure! Step-ladder when a bulb blows? Oh fuck that, no way. Except that my husband has this weird BP issue where he passes out if he holds his arms over his head for more than a few seconds, so I make myself do it when high bulbs blow out...I just don't *like* it one little bit!

Véronique said...

@MFA Mama

Exactly. I don't actually have a fear of heights. I've known people with acrophobia, and they really do panic at any kind of height. I have a fear of falling and smashing myself up. I bet I could even stand on the glass floor in the CN Tower. I might get a little queazy, but no panic. But if I perceive an actual possibility of falling, no so good, although I do not have any problem using a step ladder.

Véronique said...

Yesterday, I snipped off all the branches and sawed up what I couldn't snip. Nothing scary about that, but hard work. I was sore and exhausted last night and still sore today.