Monday, November 7, 2011

The Lucky Fiasco

I understand Thomas Edison said something similar to "luck is 99% perspiration and 1% being in the right place at the right time." Well, today luck was luck, not perspiration and certainly not smarts.

A tree died along our fence line. For several months, or maybe a year or two, we've watched that tree, wondering if a storm might tip it onto the road. This morning, chainsaw in hand, I decided it was time to beat the storm. A few weeks ago I attended a seminar entitled "Law and Literature." Nothing's relevant to today's experience except for the keynote speaker's joke that "lawyers think they can do anything." I've mentioned that to my students and warned them that maybe certain lawyers can do anything if they adequately prepare.

I set out to prove that joke. I gnawed a nice notch on the fall-in side, carved exactly the way I'd read it should be done, and the way I'd done it a fair number of times before. Then I got nervous. Maybe the funeral procession that passed by had something to do with it. What if the tree fell the wrong way? I almost called a friend or two, for last rites perhaps, but heck, give it a go, I decided. I hadn't read, or at least hadn't remembered, that it might be a good idea to hammer in a wedge or two as I made the final opposite-side cut.

As the tree began to move, I noticed a little twist and thought one of those words I wish young people wouldn't say so readily, like the day my father remembered the hammer he'd hung on a tree branch as he swung down from that very same branch, except his words were "darn it!," the nastiest language I ever heard him utter.

Now came luck. The neighboring tree reached out and caught its long-time companion, as if to say "don't leave me yet." And more luck. When I called Dudley's Tree Service, he'd just finished a job and was on his way over. Karen and I pretended to be traffic cops for an hour or so, then the job was done.

"You had me worried," says Virginia.

You worried? Think how we'd have felt tonight if Mr. Dudley hadn't been so handy, if strong winds blew or rain turned to ice, and we feared some poor soul might drive under that leaning tree at exactly the wrong time. Phew!

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