Over the past three weeks or so, I've been cutting down a rather large banyan tree (ficus microcarpa) in our front yard. Now, I'm not fond of tree-killing, though I seem to have done more than my share over the years; but the damn thing is cracking our neighbor's wall and patio, and they aren't happy about it. Our front yard is ridiculously overarboreal anyhow.
Banyans do have a tendency to spread. Despite what the Little Prince thought, it's banyans, not baobabs, that can take over planets. (The photo is a banyan on Maui, not in our front yard. But you can see how our front yard might look in the not-too-distant future.)
Cutting it down over three weeks? you ask. Don't you just take out a wedge on one side, cut through from the other, and cry, "Timber"?
One might. But that approach works better with pines and firs, the classic pole-shaped trees. A banyan spreads easily as wide as it is tall, so lopping the branches after it is toppled is a risky proposition.
Plus, I'm an incrementalist. Rather than drag out the chainsaw first thing, I climb up into the tree with a pruning saw and, well, prune. Little branches and then bigger branches and finally major branches, until at the end the two-and-three-hundred-pound branches are the last to fall. All that takes a while, especially if you're doing other things. In this case, it has taken weeks.
So, it's a process rather than an event. I don't even think of it as chopping down a tree. I think of it as editing. Really aggressive editing.
A new X-sport for writers. (Next week on Extreme Editing: Reginald pares down a rampaging Bull Elephant.)