Not long after I dragged the tree sculpture home, I went back into the park to see what was happening with the huge, ancient 3-foot-in-diameter oak that Hurricane  Sandy brought down. The parks people had been cutting it up — terrible to see. They just sawed it apart into chunks to chip; think of the beautiful wide boards or public seating it could have made…

I had no idea what I’d do with a big rough-hewn oak log, but figured it would be worth grabbing one before they disappeared, while the Parks Department workers were gone and the police weren’t patrolling. I found one a foot wide to haul home that was so heavy, I couldn’t get it on the 12″ round 3-wheeled dolly I had brought (having loaned my trusty Magna Cart Hand Truck to a neighbor). As I was struggling, a West African man came up to help. He lifted the log onto the dolly, then said thoughtfully, “You need something to pull it with”. I rummaged through my knapsack and found a bungee cord. Sela figured out a way to attach it. He told me that over time the tree would dry out and become less heavy; then he went on his way.

the rig a West African man improvised to help me get a tree stump home
photo: sally schneider

That log was so heavy, I must have looked like Hercules straining to pull it.

After a while the log toppled off it’s wheels.  I managed to leverage it onto it the dolly balanced on it’s side so I could push it.

I carefully started hauling it again. After a few block, a man came bounding up to me. “Beautiful log.” he said. ” I totally get why you want to have it in your home. It’s beautiful. Let me help you get it home.”

And he did, the poor guy. Four blocks and several topplings later, he got it into my lobby. His name was “Robert, I am a good man.” He didn’t want money. He was the third person in a week to help a middle-aged woman haul a scrap of downed tree to her apartment.

For now, I am testing the log out as a stool for my kitchen’s island. It’s comfortable, perhaps a bit visually clunky but surprising and pleasurable all the same. (If it stays, I’ll have to rig floor sliders so it won’t scratch the floor).

The next day I went out with my folding hand truck and hauled home a second log, just in case. If I don’t use it, there of plenty of people who’d take it off my hands.

fallen tree stump brought home on a hand truck
photo: sally schneider

On another walk, I snagged a shaving from the big oak: about a quarter of its rings worth of years.

photo: sally schneider

…it’s become part of a still-life in my kitchen…

photo: sally schneider

I haven’t yet figured out where the sculptural hunk I brought home will land in my place; it’s on the terrace drying out. My apartment feels different — better — for the presence of the trees.

The other night, I helped my neighbor bring home the forked log he choose from the cut up old oak to make a coffee table out of…

A small bit of redemption from Sandy’s destruction.

Related posts: hurricane sandy: strange beauty amidst destruction
fallen trees become cool park furniture
carved cardboard chair + the secret power of cardboard
tree trunks and rocks as display cases + stools
copy these: plywood chairs + tables (for kid’s or adults)
house tour: laura handler’s montana log cabin
simple stacked salvaged wood side table
salvaged-wood bathtub, headboard, island, floor…


If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

One thought on “Foraging Fallen Trees for DIY’s

  1. How improvisational, Sally! You might want to think about picking up a few of those tree shards and bringing them as house gifts. Hint. Hint. xoh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *