Is it possible to chop down a stump?
While that sounds like a deep philosophical question, it was also a practical question I was faced with in the yard the other day.
I had taken down a tree behind our shed in the back yard a few years ago, and had been very proud of my work. I tried, in fact, to bring up the topic whenever I could.
“Say you have a nice tree in your yard. Did I tell you about how I cut down a tree the other day?”
“Those pork chops looks delicious. Speaking of chops, I should tell you about how I chopped down a tree last week.”
“Did you say you want me to get Paul a bun and yam? You know, I’m a little like Paul Bunyan with this giant tree I cut down in my yard.”
Over the years, the story of cutting down the tree grew larger and larger, while the stump remained behind the shed. It bothered me a little to still see it there, so I covered it with a pile of weeds and branches.
With all of our time at home this summer, though, we decided to clean up my beautiful weed/branches/dirt pile and I spotted the stump once again. Now that we were clearing the spot, I decided I needed to get rid of what was left of the tree. But how could I remove it? I tried to dig it out, but that didn’t work, even when I sawed through the larger roots. I had no idea how to get it out of there.
I was stumped.
My wife suggested, though, that I could try to chop it out with an ax. I thought this was a great idea, mainly because we don’t have an ax and I didn’t think I would need to do any work.
She recalled, though, that our neighbors have one, so I walked over and axed for it, I mean asked for it.
When I came back to the yard, I was pretty enthusiastic about my machoness, but also a little concerned about how this would work. Should I chop it down in the dirt where I had dug around it? Should I chop in the middle on the top? What was the best way to do this to get my wife and other people to notice me?
My wife suggested chopping at the side, so I began that way. It started off great, as some side pieces came off fairly easily and I was able to get some good cuts into the stump.
I have decent form for using an ax and found that my aim was much better than I expected. I’m clearly very talented or very lucky.
I found quickly that I was making great progress, but I was also getting very tired. Chopping is hard work, and I still had quite a bit of the stump to get through.
I dug out more around the stump, chopped at the sides, chopped at the top and slowly made progress.
It was extremely frustrating whenever the ax got stuck, but it was also extremely satisfying when parts of the stump would break off.
And you know that it was all worth it during that glorious moment when my wife and the neighbors were talking about what a good job I was doing.
I finally did finish my work on the stump by chopping it so that what was left of it was about a foot below the ground. And after getting down to the root of my stump problems, I covered up what was left of it with the dirt that I had dug up earlier. I smoothed it over so that it looked fairly flat, and then stepped back to admire my work and myself.
I did it! And I didn’t feel like doing anything else.
I was hot. I was very tired. And I a had a big blister on my hand that was sore, but thankfully would be something that I could show off as a battle scar.
“This heat sure is blistering. Speaking of blisters, I got one from chopping wood the other day.”
“Can you believe this movie critic thinks my favorite actor is a B-lister? Speaking of blisters….”
And now that I am done with my work, I’m left with memories of my amazing work and one very important and vexing question.
Did I chop the stump down or did I chop the stump up?