Martial Arts, Party Games And Nights Out.

First some backstory.

About a year ago, my daughter became old enough to sign up for a martial arts class that I could join her in.  She asked me if I would like to take part with her.  I said yes.  Studying martial arts has always been one of those things on my to do list, but I never got “around to it.”

Not so many weeks ago, during a class, our instructor noticed that my front stance was narrow and was working with me to plant my feet wider.  As any of you know who have ever studied a martial art, body awareness and physical human movement are key.  I worked at different exercises/moves with my instructor watching.  Repeatedly, I would unconsciously narrow my stance, then have to adjust.  He asked me, “Do you spend a lot of time balancing with your feet spread apart, but in a line?”  The answer was yes, of course.  As any tree climber will tell you, is the essence of a limb walk!

Now some front story.

Yesterday I was working with the crew.  Perched out on a limb balancing myself for a clearance cut, I was reminded of the martial arts story.  I told it to the crew, which started a humorous discussion of how our profession effects our lives in odd ways.  Sure we get tired, paychecks all the usual, but there are hidden pros and cons as well.

Here are two of my favorite from yesterday a pro and a con.


By unanimous decision, the crew agreed that as tree workers who regularly use a throw line and bag, that any party skill that involves throwing and/or precise targeting is more advanced than non-tree-climbing party goers.  This includes Quarters, Beer Pong, Horseshoes, Quoits, that strange game with golf balls on a string, bean bags or washers at a target…. just to name a few!


Many times I have gone out with my wife and asked her not to let on what I do for a living.  Seems as soon as someone hears I am an arborist I get one of two things and most often both.  First, a story about a friend/relative and/or the storyteller’s tree misadventure(s).  Second, a tree issue they have.   Described in exquisite detail and they want advise/help concerning it.  (I imagine the second is much the same for doctors.  I hope they do not run into the first much! ) I like trees and treework, but sometimes I just want to tune it all out and tune in something else!

So there you have it.  Two odd ways tree climbing will effect your life outside of work .  I would be interested to hear some of your stories along these lines, whether they be tree related or not.

Thanks for reading,


Long and Winding Roads

It does not take a person long to realize life is not a linear path, not a straight line progression from “A” to “B” to “C.”  It is this winding, this venturing, this sometimes outright bewilderment that makes the journey so much more valuable than the destination.

As J.R.R Tolkien told us “Not all who are wander are lost.”

These are lessons I see in my life as I cast back to memories, places and events.  Often our most treasured mementos are small scraps or tid-bits, photos, certificates  memorabilia of time spent, friends gained, experiences had.   There is the small, dirty 8 X 12 american flag that hangs on the wall of my home office.  Diplomas from high school, college.   At times, when lacking inspiration or befuddled on the path of life ,I like to stop and look at these things.  I like to remember why I chose to hang on to them, in some cases hang them up.  It gives perspective.

My career in trees has been no different.  As many of you know I grew up in the industry.  My father, with a background in forestry, made the leap into arboriculture around 1970.  A leap many would make later and still do today.  I can remember going to work with him on occasion as he visited crews, spoke with client’s, put out the fires that all tree companies have and expect the sales representatives and managers to deal with.

One memorable time in the fall of 1980 my father and I received a unique opportunity.  I had not realized the full scope at the time, I was young.  In retrospect, I have come to understand just what an opportunity it was and I am forever grateful.

My father often got called in to help settle tree disputes.  October 27 1980 was no different.  A  neighbor cut a tree on a client’s property.  Not a big tree, in fact it was not felled with a chainsaw, but an axe.  Regardless of the mode, amends needed to be made, value assigned.

The tree was cut as a form of exercise popular at the training camp that bordered the client’s property.  The owner of the camp was Muhammad Ali, it was one of his boxers swinging the axe.  Because of the interesting nature of the job, my father took me along.

I remember a lot of talking.  Standing on the stump for scale as my father snapped pictures, took notes.  Eventually, the formalities over we had an opportunity to go into the camp proper.  As I remember the camp was clouded a bit in secrecy.  Normally a private place so fighters could concentrate on training, it was more so this day.  It makes sense now as it was only two weeks after the Ali/Holmes fight.  A fight many believe should have never happened.  A fight that served as a sour end to a brilliant career.

Eventually, quite by surprise, as I remember, it turned out Muhammad Ali was there and had agreed to meet with us for a short time after a work out.

The room was small and dark, the champ lay face down on a table as one of the trainers massaged his legs.  The conversation was brief.  Ali looked up at me and my father thanking us for the help with his tree problem.  We  had to struggle to hear his voice  Then he reached across and  gave me a  left hook to the chin.  With the light tap he said in his trademark soft spoken voice, “always do your best.”   His eyes glinted in the light from the doorway behind me.  His face open and honest.

Great advice from a great man.

It was not until much later in life that I came to realize just who and what Ali is.  What he had done for sport.  What he did for the world.  In the historical context his advice was the basis of his last fight.  For a man who spent his whole life fighting, in the ring, in life, in politics and religion, he always did his best.

So now I share a distinction that only a few have.  I took a left hook from Muhammad Ali and I am better for it.


Tree Climbing Rendezvous 2013


Just wanted to let you all know about a great event coming up this fall near Atlanta Ga.  Tree Climbers International is hosting the 2013 Tree Climbing Rendezvous.

The flyer is attached here Rendezvous Flyer

I will be giving a short presentation on equipment inspection, but there are many more exciting speakers and events going on all week.  If you have any interest at all in getting involved with or continuing on with tree climbing as hobby, sport or profession this would be an excellent place to be.

I look forward to seeing some of you there.