Glory of everyday expertise
The skill of people never ceases to amaze me. We hear of surgeons performing amazing keyhole surgery.
We hear of some whizz-kid who has developed nano technology where "machines" are smaller than the eye can see. These folk get the bulk of publicity and consequent adulation.
But it's the everyday guy who goes about his business without a thought as to how good he might be at it that gets me every time.
I say this because last week the time had come to take down the massive 100-year-old cyprus tree - at least 80 feet high with a spread about the same - growing out the front.
I've had a personal association with this tree for most of my life. When the family moved here I was eight and the cyprus was made for climbing, hiding in and building cubby houses.
At nine, or thereabouts, I had my first glance at a girl's knickers when I hoisted my cousin up into it.
When relatives or mates came around we spent endless amounts of time up that tree, just as my children and their mates have done.
The decision to remove it was filled with more than a tinge of sadness as it held so many memories. That said, the old girl had decided to start dropping branches without warning.
Having the phone line reconnected three times in as many weeks was starting to annoy the crap out of me.
In summer it offered no shade to the house and dropped sap all over the cars. In winter, with the tree being on the north side, we got absolutely no sun for months.
That alone, danger aside outweighed any wistfulness I felt. Enter Phil the logger, Paul the feller and Steve the dogsbody. "$6000 including stump removal, and two days," was Phil's blunt assessment.
"What if you just drop it and we keep the timber?" I replied. "Double it," said Phil.
"Paul wouldn't get his equipment out for a month."
So we bit the bullet and I sat in gobsmacked amazement at the job these three undertook. Paul's up the tower dropping branches like ten pins.
As quickly as they come down, and with the skill of any micro surgeon, Phil in his Bell picks up massive logs, turns on a dime in a space so restricted that I was sure that we were going to lose veranda posts at the very least, and feeds 3/4 metre wide logs into the chipper.
On day two the outer branches had gone but the centre remained.
The tower stretched to 40 feet and there was another 40 foot of tree above it.
Out with the spurs and ropes, chainsaw hanging off his belt and up Paul went. Now, I thought: "Here goes the fence!"
But that was never going to happen. Paul gave the newly homeless possums a lesson in tree climbing, dropping branches and logs exactly where he intended them to land. Meanwhile Steve was clearing, feeding and sawing up anything left behind by Phil and the Bell.
The expertise and dexterity displayed by these three blokes was spellbinding.
When I commended them on their expertise, they shrugged and said: "Just another job."
Skill and craftsmanship does not come out of the classroom. They come from years of on-the-job learning and dedication to your profession.
Obbie "Dingo" Rose can jackknife six B-doubles side by side with barely a couple of feet between them.
Every day you see blokes back a semi or B-double in places where school mums wouldn't attempt to put the family Landcruiser.
You handle up to 60 tons or more over all sorts of terrain and fight lunatic traffic day in, day out.
What you do is all class. Be proud!