I’ve wanted to ask a long time. Finally, I got up the nerve.
“Honey, can I have a chainsaw of my own, please?”
“What in the hell for?” Mark says, his eyes leery. I can tell this request threatens him in some way. Not that he worries I’m apt to saw him in two in a fit of rage while he is sleeping or anything. More like I’m telling him he is some kind of chainsaw slacker who isn’t sawing up logs to my satisfaction. Then, there is the point that he doesn’t fancy me going around sawing off branches or downing trees that he feels should be left alone.
I explained that I occasionally wanted debris removed from the horse riding area and I hated to ask him to do it for me. Every time I request he remove a tree trunk or underbrush, he rolls his eyes and acts as if I am loading more work onto his full plate. So, I hate asking. This means I go around hitting my head repeatedly on an overhead branch whenever I ride a certain trail. I also stare, perturbed, at small trees that are inching into my pasture. The fact is, with 50 acres, no one person can keep it all groomed and cleaned up, and Mark has important work to do around our homestead – he can’t be bothered with the little things that I want for personal reasons. I feel if I can be more independent, and help out more outside, I should.
I told him I didn’t want a huge, power chainsaw like the several he wields. His are heavy machines, one for downing branches and trees, one for debarking logs, and a smaller electric one from Florida which he keeps for small jobs around the house (OUTSIDE the house, obviously.) He said I could have the electric one (it’s lighter) but it will only saw about two branches before needing to be recharged. Um . . . that won’t do.
I said, “Certainly they must make a lighter chainsaw for women. Maybe something that comes in pink.”
He laughed at me. Told me they didn’t make pink chainsaws. And I’d be hard pressed to lift any chainsaw, much less handle it properly. Then, he started listing the things I cannot do with a chainsaw. I can’t saw branches over my head. Can’t saw anything on the ground in a way that will hit dirt. The list went on and on. . . . He advised I get an old fashion saw and cut branches by hand.
I reminded him that his mentor, famous wood turner, Lissie Olan, uses a chainsaw and a tractor and she is about 70. She could out-saw him in a heartbeat. Women certainly can handle heavy power tools if they have a desire to do so. I also pointed out that I would want a chainsaw lesson before I’d start using it. I’m not about to be irresponsible with something so dangerous. But I sure would like to spend an hour a day working on cleaning up the perimeters of the pasture. It would be a good workout,( I’d get booya arms) and maintaining the pasture is something that I consider important because I am the one with the thing for horses, but is a low priority in the bigger scheme of work to be done.
He agreed that I could learn to use a chainsaw, and it was true, he didn’t appreciate my piling all kinds of odd jobs on his plate, which were, technically, unnecessary. It might actually be nice if I could do some of the tasks I alone wanted done. And the big stuff, getting firewood or clearing downed trees, would remain his domain.
Therefore, I guess I’ll be getting a chainsaw this summer. How cool is that! I’m gonna see if I can paint it pink, or at least put pretty flower stickers on it. Just for principal sake. It will give the boys something to make fun of. I have no problem becoming the butt of jokes, because I know it doesn’t mean you aren’t highly respected at the same time. FLEX taught me that.
I think a lot about becoming more independent here in this new life we are carving out of the wilderness. Granted, I’m a girl who maintains perfectly manicured nails. A girl who everyday does her hair, puts on makeup and pretty jewelry to go with her jeans and sweatshirt, even when she knows no one but family and a friendly donkey will see her. I cook and swoon over flowers and pick berries and have a dozens of girly interests. But I also don’t mind getting my manicured hands dirty and I’m the person who tracks in half the mud in this house. (My nail technician shakes her head every week and says, “What do you DO to ruin these nails so quickly.”
Ha. What can I say? “I live.”
The fact is, I want to be a girl who doesn’t have to wait for things, or make compromises because she is counting on others to make her aspirations manifest.
And I don’t want to be someone who makes her husband toil as if it is his job to make her personal interests easier to pursue. If I don’t want something enough to do the work required, than I don’t want it enough.
I dream of designing my own peacock pen, and then going out and building it. I want to get into my new barn (when I have one) and maintain it myself. I even mentioned to Mark that they make small tractors for barn and animal maintenance for about ten thousand dollars – you see ads for them in the horse magazines and there is always a well-groomed, relaxed woman at the helm. (It is clear who their target market is.) That’s the same cost of a four-wheeler – We have two of those. Perhaps, instead of teaching me to drive his super, expensive tractor, we should consider an itty-bitty tractor just for inexperienced me (when the FLEX building sells – everything is on hold till then, but it looks to happen this month. Yehaw!) Mark just sighed, but I think I’ve set the seed for future consideration.
The other day, he bought a heavy-duty spreader for the back of the four-wheeler. This allows us to spread weed and feed and grass seed along our big pastures in a fraction of the time it took last year when Kent and I did it by hand. He also brought me a gift – an attached wheelbarrow dump fixture – something I’ve mentioned wanting many times. Now I can fill up a load of sticks or manure in this bin attached to the four-wheeler, and drive it wherever. This will help me with pasture maintenance, cleaning the chicken coup etc… I’ve been complaining about the fact that I can’t haul stuff without doing it the old fashion way, with a beat-up wheelbarrow and pure muscle. He has a spiffy tractor to do this kind of work and I’ve been jealous. Anyway, his gift of a cart, in my opinion, is a sign he is in support of my desire to take charge of my own work. Funny, this may seem like a pretty strange gift for a girl to get excited over, but I was delighted.
I’ve been given gifts of lingerie and jewelry from my husband plenty of times, which is sweet, but it’s been the practical, unexpected things I appreciate most. Muck boots. Bee hives. New rubber mats for my car. These items show the man I live with knows the true me, a girl who values down to earth things and life experience over symbols designed to impress others. A practical gift means he wants to make my world more convenient, which in my opinion shouts, “I care” a lot more than a polished rock. I guess romance wears many faces.
Anyway, the point is, I want a chainsaw. It is a natural desire considering my new existence. I want to saw things. Here the roar of the engine. Feel the vibration. Be in charge of my environment. Heck, if that isn’t anew experience for a girl like me, what is?
A chainsaw fits this new non-dancing me. I love being outdoors and working closely with animals. I love working the land, pausing to listen to birds or catching a glimpse of wildlife. I love that I am getting the hang of the country existence, which is so grounded in spirituality and enriching healthful options. I don’t mind getting sweaty, or dirty, or being physically exhausted. It makes me feel alive. And at the end of the day, I take a shower, sit on the porch with a glass of wine, and listen to the gurgling creek in our backyard with a sense that I am in the right place for this stage of life. We’ve earned this shot at a new existence. And we are not about to avoid the work necessary to design it to our specification.
We didn’t pick this new world because we no longer wanted to work. We just no longer wanted to work in the dance field. We picked this world for the adventure of it – because it stretches our horizons and introduces us to facets of life we have long since lost contact with. There is something so intimate and grounding about working in and around nature, getting back to the basics of life and removing yourself from the trappings of our consumer culture (Malls and meals out. I’ve had enough of both to last a lifetime). Life here is simple. I like it that way. But still, it is nice to shake things up a bit. And what better way than to hang on to a pink chainsaw and let it rip!