Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Goodness of Good Neighbors . . . and Chainsaws

A few nights ago in Oklahoma, the wind did not come “sweeping down the plain.” Instead, it came ripping and snorting with the fury of a rodeo bull charging from the gate. I’m no stranger to strong winds. I’ve experienced hurricane- and tornado-force winds, so Mother Nature doesn’t easily scare me (except for snakes and bears). But I’ve never heard wind howl as loud as it did that night, and although I wasn’t exactly panicking, I was working myself into . . . let’s just say an elevated state of concern. 

Around 1 AM, my husband Bill informed me the tree that used to be beside our driveway was now in our driveway. (Oh, the difference a tiny preposition makes!) But hearing the wind settling down and being fairly certain no other trees would be crashing to the ground, I fell asleep. Around 7 AM, I got up and went outside to inspect the damage.

As it turns out, the tree had landed partially in the driveway and partially on our roof. Moving it and freeing our cars from the garage was going to be no small job. The thirty-year-old Bradford pear had towered approximately thirty feet tall, and if you’ve ever dealt with a fallen tree, you know the space it occupies when standing exponentially increases when it hits the ground. I estimated it would take at least a couple of days—depending on how soon we could get someone to do the work—and anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars to make our driveway passable.

I went inside to get some coffee and change into work clothes. By the time I got back outside, neighbors from two different families had joined Bill and were hard at work. Armed with clippers, pruners, handsaws, and a hand-sized chainsaw, parents and kids were all excitedly sawing, clipping, and dragging limbs into a pile. Our next-door neighbor climbed onto the roof to wrap a rope around the branch that rested there. Cheers broke out when the huge branch eventually fell to the ground.

It soon became apparent that in order to make further progress, we would have to call for reinforcement. Our neighbor from the opposite end of the street answered the call, arriving on the scene with his seven-year-old son and a heavy-duty chainsaw in tow. Now things were really buzzing. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) We were beginning to attract a small audience because what better entertainment than men with chainsaws and axes? After wielders of chainsaws and axes had done their work, everyone—moms, dads, sisters, brothers—loaded the heavier pieces of wood into a pickup and toted them away. In a matter of a few hours, our driveway was cleared and our cars liberated.


This entire account just oozes with goodness. In times when media in any form would have us believe people's favorite pastime is fighting, this was a prime example of people coming together to help. No bickering, no thoughts of political or religious differences. Just good-hearted people happy to help out a neighbor with a difficult task.   

But here’s the real goodness. This incident took place on a Sunday morning that also happened to be Father’s Day. I know these families normally attend church on Sunday mornings, but this Sunday they had taken time to put their faith into action. I couldn’t help thinking the entire time we were working how these dads—and moms—were teaching their children by example the joy that comes from helping a friend. And I know for a fact this wasn’t the first time those children had witnessed that lesson. 

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