Tree climber. Yep, that’s gonna be my next job.
Well, it’s gonna be the next job of a character I’m dreaming up ever since a guy scaled a 100-foot tree in my front yard and chopped it down with a chain saw.
My last job went pretty well – backhoe driver. The pay was great, the foreman wasn’t a bad sort, and I got a date with a hot red head named Mona. Things went great until they didn’t.
So I’m excited about this tree climbing gig. I do a lot of research. Take pictures, say “wow, I can’t believe he’s up there so high,” and then deny that any of my interest in the future potential character is at all tied to the general hotness of the tree crew.
I’m still in the creative stage, so it’s important to draw on any and all inspiration, right?
My other excuse is that I’m fifty and can start to blame lots of what I think, do and say on my age. (I reckon it would take about two and a half of them to make my age. So none of the professionals pictured in this story are named, to protect them from me.)
Like, thinking I can write about scaling a 100-foot tree with a running chain saw dangling from my belt with any degree of realism.
Isn’t that what we do? Write about stuff we’ve never seen and done, characters we’ve never been or will be, places we’ve never been.
Except for the writers who actually do those things and are those characters and go to those places.
To me it’s completely fair and valid to blend what we know firsthand with what we can glean by research and weave it into a story. To me, it’s about having a starting point, a real place of reference deep within that can inform the part that will be obtained by research.
I grew up climbing trees in the small town I lived in. Once my dad was a little late clipping chicken wings and most of the herd escaped out of our backyard and into the town. He paid us kids a buck a chicken to bring them back, so I climbed more trees to chase down chickens. My awesome dad also built a treehouse in the backyard, and my friends and I slept up there every other night during summertime. Point is, I’ve been in a a few trees. And fallen out of one, but that’s another story altogether, maybe.
The fun part for me is seeing if I can bridge the gap between sitting in the welcoming crook of a willow tree to a character hanging atop a swaying tree trunk and wielding a chain saw with such expertise that the branches fall where he means them to fall. The point in the end, isn’t it, is whether the discerning reader believes it, whether I do my homework well enough.
My backhoe story was published and I recited part of it at a reading. Afterward, a guy walked up to me and said, “Nice job with the construction part.” It was great to hear that, both because he noticed that element of the story and knew enough to judge it.
I hope I fare as well with the tree guy story. Well, not that it has a plot yet, but . . . details!
Won’t know until I try. So much fun awaits!
By the way, it is incredibly sad to have a tree cut down. In this case, the root ball had been compromised by the street scaping and there was concern the tree would fall on a nearby house.
And props to the talented tree crew of Rawls Tree Service, who had the skills to take down the tree safely and the good nature to put up with my photo research.
XO Laurel Leigh
10 responses to “Tree Plotting”
Fun post and great pics! My brother did tree work for many years. I would venture to guess that at the heart of all tree workers there is a little kid who loves climbing trees. He certainly seemed to enjoy that part.
Hey Selah! Thanks for the good words. Now I know who to interview for my character! It has to be kind of amazing to wake up and think, I get to climb trees today! There is something really cool about being up high in any case. When I clean my roof, I always like the quietness of it.
I’ll just interject right now that there is nothing “quiet” about cutting down trees. My father lost most of the hearing in one ear when a chain saw (wielded by my brother) was started too close to his head. He suffered from awful tinnitus for the rest of his life. I suppose modern day tree trimmers wear hearing protectors. Brooms are definitely much quieter when used on the roof. 😀
For quiet, I suggest you go skydiving. Once your shoot is open, there’s nothing but you and silence. Lovely.
Sky diving is totally on my bucket list! Speaking of, I better get going on that considering my current age. Yes, there is nothing quiet about a chain saw–maybe I was taking some poetic license there! Really, I was thinking about the wind sailer who was working on another tree in my backyard on the same day. He used a handsaw to create this gorgeous pruning effect all the way to the top of a 100-foot tree. It was very interesting to see the exciting chain saw operation happening out front and then turn around and look at this quiet operation happening in the back. The wind sailing was really quite graceful to watch.
So on my roof I use both broom and blower and like the broom best because of the quiet.
That is sorrowful to hear about your dad, Jill. So many accidents that take a second have lifelong effects and must make us all spend a lot of time thinking about the what if and what if not. Were all our dads deaf? Mine was pretty hard of hearing by the end and he became proficient at lip reading, although it was hilarious when he occasionally misinterpreted.
Laurel, we just cut down a bunch of trees in our front yard, so I found this post incredibly timely and funny! I wish I had thought to document as thoroughly as you. That’s one of the things I adore about you – your ability to find character inspiration and ideas everywhere. I am working on that. 🙂 I was sad to cut ours down, too, but they were half rotten from the middle up, being choked by ivy for much too long. And I can’t say I don’t enjoy the extra sunshine in our yard now …
Thanks, Amy! I think my way to understand the world is often as this ongoing narrative, so I do get lots of ideas. Not sure I’ll live long enough to write them all down, but it will be fun to try.
I want to see your yard now! It makes such a huge difference, doesn’t it? I just keep marveling at the change.
I did have fun donating firewood, which was gone in less than two hours.
See you soon! XO
I want to see yours, too! You must come over soon. We’ll enjoy a tasty beverage on the deck, take in the new view and conjure up character and plot elements from the world around us. 😉
Sounds fab! Let’s do it soon!
I’m not buying this research for the sake of story. I’m thinking there’s an entire line-up of Chip n Dales cutting down trees in your yard.
Reminds me of the time the fire department showed up at our house twice in the same week. We had bought a house that had an alarm system tied in to the local fire station, so when one of the sensors in our place malfunctioned, it sounded the alarm there. The first morning, my husband was in New York, and this truck full of hunks shows up at my doorstep in full regalia. I was in pajamas. They asked if they could come inside and inspect the house, so I showed them around. They found nothing. The second time it happened, I was also in pajamas. I couldn’t quite decide if I was more embarrassed by what I was wearing or the fact that I was wasting their time. But they were easy on the eyes, so I let them inspect the house again. That’s when we narrowed it down to a defective sensor.
I do not recommend buying a house that’s tied to a fire station unless you’re on the prowl. But according to a friend, all the single firemen she knows are “players,” so they would only be heartbreak in the end.
But then, that’s more research, right? 😀
I’m so busted.
That’s a hilarious firemen story. There’s something about a swarm of anything that’s deliciously overwhelming. Here’s to pajamas in the afternoon!