My Dad grew up during the Great Depression–hard times with little money. Whatever you needed or wanted, you either grew, as in a garden; tended, as with chickens (for the family table); made (as a boat for being on the river), improvised or did without.
God-given talent plus those hard times plus later training in various construction skills gave my father ability to improvise or make whatever he wanted. If he needed, say, a worktable or a trailer, he could figure it out in his head how he wanted to do it and what kind and size of materials to use. Sometimes he sketched it out, but he didn’t really need to.
I didn’t inherit such ability from my dad. But he did leave me a memory I drew from to solve a problem.
One summer I decided it was time to take down a maple tree sapling. Although it was only around 3″ or 4″ in diameter, it was too close to the house for comfort. Because the sapling grew a few feet down a slope, getting close enough to cut it was difficult, from above or below. I risked either a sprained ankle, being covered with poison ivy, or both. Wanting to make my little project as risk-free as possible, I pondered what to do, and remembered my dad had a similar occasion.
Years ago, my dad took down a tall tree. He attached a cable to his bulldozer, then wrapped the other end of the cable around the tree. Using his chainsaw he made a cut in the tree. With the bulldozer acting as the steady weight on the tree, the tree came down, safely and without complications, as my dad drove his bulldozer along.
With this memory to guide me, I found a thick rope and tied it to the sapling. I asked my mother to hold the other end of the rope. Using a pruning saw I made a cut in the tree. My mother pulled on the tree and down it came. Success! All I had to do was cut the branches into smaller pieces and haul them away in the cart. Later I was able to make three or four cuts in the stump and pour table salt in the cuts to kill the stump. When I look out the kitchen window and see the dead stump I am reminded of my dad’s resourcefulness and the example he gave to me.