Where's the ibuprofen?

David Christy

“Oh I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK, I sleep all night, I work all day.” ~ from the famous lumberjack song as performed by the British comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

With the passing of the latest ice storm from Garfield County and the rest of Oklahoma, you can still see and hear what nature wrought with her latest attack on Oklahomans.

The “see” is apparent. Limbs down, trees down, power lines down and service interrupted for days. No internet, again for days.

The last one became a wake-up call for all of us tethered to our smartphones. And I started questioning my choice of an “air” laptop, only getting internet service over wifi — when the wifi no longer spread its invisible curtain over our portion of the state.

Anyway, the sounds of an ice storm are different than anything you will experience with severe weather. It was the silence of everything overnight when the freezing rain began clinging to everything upright in the out of doors. Then, there was the cracking of tree limbs — and entire trees — as the ice just kept on accumulating.

The sounds changed and intensified as the temperature rose past that magical 32-degree mark, and suddenly the freezing rain turned to just rain, and the trees and grass and shrubs quickly were released from their frozen cocoons.

Cocoons — now there’s a funny word if you say over and over again. Sorry, got sidetracked. After all, I’m a lumberjack — and I’m OK.

Again, the sounds changed, as chainsaws everywhere were hauled from garages and sheds and fired up, to take on what nature had done to us.

You could hear them everywhere in Enid. You could hear them everywhere from my Waukomis house, since my hometown was hit hard by the ice — in particular my yard.

Now, remember that big ice storm in late January 2002 that hit Garfield County? It was the granddaddy of them all for us, since it knocked out power in Waukomis for at least 11 days, and saw 10,000 electric poles and transmission lines fall and have to be replaced in our area. It left $100 million damage in its wake and prompted us to be in the middle of a federal disaster declaration.

My hat was off back then to the surge in electric company trucks and workers that swarmed here to help us get back on the power grid, facing a truly herculean task in getting the lights and the heat back on.

I remember the white trucks of electric service workers from South Texas that staged in the parking lot of Waukomis High School for weeks.

The familiar orange trucks of OG&E were everywhere too, they were just overwhelmed with the magnitude of the ice damage just like the rest of us.

Anyway, it was the sounds of chainsaws heard across our area this week that caught my attention, prompted by the deluge of tree limbs that needed to be cleared from yards and streets.

After returning from a trip to Southern Oklahoma down U.S. 81, I almost called a friend to see if the Germans had bombarded Waukomis — in particular my yard — with artillery, since it looked a lot like scenes from World War I — trees shattered and the limbs laying everywhere.

That was my yard. So, I hauled out the old chainsaw, put on a new blade, gased and cranked it up and began sawing and sawing and sawing and sawing.

Oh wait, did I say I sawed a lot? Yep, as I write this, the muscles required to hold and operate a chainsaw are really feeling it right now. Little worse the wear but good enough to write this.

I’ve become re-introduced to this truly useful machine, and become adept at using once again.

Did you know that the first chainsaw was used by a doctor?

Yep, it debuted when a chainsaw-like tool was made about 1830 by German orthopaedist Bernhard Heine. Called the osteotome, it had links of a chain carrying small cutting teeth with the edges set at an angle, with the chain moving around a guiding blade by turning a handle of a sprocket wheel, and it was used to cut bone.

Yikes — too much information.

The earliest patent for a practical wood-cutting chainsaw was granted to Samuel Bens of San Francisco in January 1905. Now, it mainly was used to cut large trees and eventually supplanted the loggers’ two-man saw with massive teeth you see in some old movies, and today in some two-person lumberjack wood-cutting challenge matches on TV.

The chainsaw is a marvelous machine for cutting downed tree limbs like butter.

Our bathroom floor can attest, since it was covered Tuesday by small chunks of wood shavings fallen from my pants and shirt.

Now, where is that ibuprofen?

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Christy is news editor in charge of the layout desk and a columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. His blog is at www.tinyurl.com/Column-Blog.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for David? Send an email to davidc@enidnews.com.

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3rd-generation journalist, Univ. of Oklahoma School of Journalism 1968-1972, OU Sports Information Office, sports editor Sherman (Texas) Democrat, editor weekly Waukomis Hornet, news editor Enid News & Eagle. Retired 27-year volunteer firefighter and EMT.

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