The Ravages Of Time

About 3 weeks ago one of my clubs was contacted by a gentleman in Birmingham regarding our possible interest in a 80 year old horse chestnut that had just been felled on his property. As I am the club’s webmaster, these emails come to me, and there is a mutual understanding with the committee and other club members that I can decide on these matters and if I put the effort into getting the wood and then make it available to the club, in return I get to pick which pieces I want for myself.

Initially after my first reply, there was a bit of silence, and I thought the opportunity had been lost to an overly zealous tree surgeon and his desire to make some decent firewood. As it turned out, the opposite was true (the tree surgeon wasn’t interested in this tree at all), and so last Saturday I made my way to Edgbaston, armed with chainsaw, protective gear and all sorts of ancillary kit.

The tree was indeed of decent size, about 30″ trunk diameter at breast height, but it had also suffered from quite severe rot on the inside, which probably contributed strongly to it being felled in the first place. A nearby sycamore shows similar symptoms (foliage reduced by more than 50%) and will have to come down in the near future.
The trunk of the chestnut had been cut into two large pieces of about 6ft length each, with all the major branches being cut into 3-4ft sections and piled up on the driveway. After some chat with the property owners I set to work. After about 6 hours of toil in the baking sun I ended up with a car full of chestnut cut into (barely) manageable pieces between 5kg and 50kg. Despite having drunk about 3ltr of water, I was dehydrated and exhausted. In fact, when I arrived back home, I was so knackered I just sat on the couch for about an hour before moving another limb.

Nothing more happened on that day other than offloading of tools and 2 smaller pieces of wood. Next day, the remainder of the wood was transported to the yard (where I have 2 horse boxes for wood storage), offloaded and endgrain sealed with PVA.

So what’s any of this got to do with the title, I hear you ask.

Well, there are two links here, really. The first, and less important one, is that clearly this tree has been ravaged by time. The rot at its core had already gouged out a cavity of about 6-8″ across, with radial spikes of rot extending up to another 8-10″ in any direction. This turned a lot of wood into mush or such small cuts that it wasn’t worth keeping. At the same time, the rot allowed fungi to infest the tree, and some of the timber has some of the most beautiful spalting and figuring I have ever seen. Doomed, but magnificent. Some pictures to follow soon.

An secondly, and more importantly, the title links to me. After the exhaustion of Saturday, I fully expected to be a bit deflated on Sunday, and I was. It felt like somebody had a good workout with a cricket bat on my body. I did however, expect to be back to some kind of normal on Monday or latest on Tuesday. Alas, it took until Wednesday for me to not feel completely knackered any longer, and even now (Friday) I can feel some of the pain in my muscles and joints. Age is taking its toll, and there is little I can do about it. I still have decent strength, but any damage inflicted just takes so much longer to repair.  I suppose I have to start taking it easier, or otherwise one day I’ll do damage that can’t be repaired.

So there you have it. Time is the one thing we cannot change. Inexorably it keeps on moving in one direction, dragging everything along with it, and much as the head says “you’re still young!”, the body says “no way, Jose”.

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