While fighting to get Visual Studio to incorporate a new linear-programming optimizer routine (the vendors are busy trying to figure out why it doesn't work right), I've been taking time to, ahem, do a bit of gardening.
Specifically, I cut down two 40-foot-high trees.
Now, I don't much like cutting down trees, and these were exemplars of their type: Australian Brush Cherries (Syzigium paniculatum or Eugenia myrtifolia), variety Monterey Bay, which some references say reach a masimum height of 15 meters. So our pair was nearing their full genetic potential.
They were also uprooting a brick wall and wreaking all manner of other havoc. Whoever planted them didn't think things through. Brush cherries seem like innocent little things: they are popular as bonsais, they can be trimmed into topiaries, and the the hedge along our walkway is a long sequence of well-trimmed brush cherries. But if left to their natural inclinations, they become tall, pavement-heaving, pipe-crushing monsters.
And these weren't in a spot where you could attack the base of the trunk, cry "Timber!" and stand back. They could easily topple onto our house, our neighbor's house, fences, walls...
So it was a process of climbing up into the trees and cutting down the high branches first--toppling then carefully toward the few safe fall zones. It took a day of working down the trees to get to two heavy-trunked, branchless stubs about twelve feet high. Back on solid ground, I brought these down with a chainsaw. And I've spent much of the rest of the day chainsawing branches and treetrunks into bits that can be carried without hiring in trained logging elephants from Thailand.
The whole process has left me with mixed emotions. I always feel guilty about felling trees, and expect furious Ents to descend upon me with their powerful fists. But destroying large examples of God's handiwork with loud power tools is one of those satisfyingly testosterone-laden acts that guys have to perform every so often. I tell myself chopping down problem trees is better than, say, setting cars on fire, or shooting lions, or invading Poland. (Though I suppose to invade Poland with much effect really requires a large military apparatus. If you invade Poland on your own, you probably seem like just another tourist.)
The real problem is that now I have to clean up after myself. It's quite a mess. But, then, most guy things seem to leave a big mess, which may be why invading other countries has always been so popular. At least then the mess isn't in your own yard.