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Monday, February 12, 2007

Clearing the trees, Brasilian style

After four years of living in Brasil, I can still be astonished by how things are done around here. I am a friend of Rosemary. We are bound tightly together in all our differences by our sameness as American women living in a foreign land. Camillo and I live in the mountains above Nova Friburgo. Our house has a view of the Valley Stucky (Vale Stucky) ending with the high peaks of Serra do Mar. We think it is the best view in all of the State of Rio de Janeiro. The land in this area is all preserve of Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlantica) and we can not cut trees without permission from the governing body of IBMA, well unless, of course, the tree is deemed dead by a local specialist in tree removal.
We had such a tree. It was a tall tree. Down the hill from the house; its top as high as the house, so let’s call it a four-five story tree It was a Eucalyptus to be exact. It looked half dead for about the last three years but we watched it closely to make sure we didn’t just think it should get new leaves while it thought itself in hibernation. Trees in our forest do that, they bloom or leaf out one year in June and the next year in February and then it won’t leaf or bloom at all for several years. This tree though, had leaves on only one branch, way at the top, and during one of our sudden bursts of wind it would drop small branches. IBMA rules or no, we decided that we needed to take the tree down.
Last Thursday morning a tree removal specialist and his helper showed up before breakfast. (In some mysterious communication system between the locals, they find out when they are needed.) He rested a tall wooden ladder against the base of the tree, took off his flip-flops, climbed the ladder to the top then jumped to the tree like one of Rosemary’s little monkeys, with a combination of shimmy and use of small branches in one minute flat he was at the top of the tree. He pulled a long curved machete from his pants and began to take the top branches down. Then he scooted down, taking off lower branches as he went. I have to insert here that there were no safety lines, harnesses or safety boots like tree trimmers in the states have. About half way down, and it seemed hanging by his toes, he tied a rope around the tree, chopped the tree in half and his helper pulled it to the ground. Neat as a pin and no power equipment used to disturb the silence of the forest. I took pictures if you are interested in the process.

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