Haircut 2005

giving palm trees their haircuts

It's that time again

If it's the end of May, it's time to give the palm trees their summer haircuts! And right on schedule, intrepid young men all up and down the valley clamped on their climbing spikes, cinched their safety belts, and ascended the palm trees one by one, machete in hand, to give each tree its forty whacks.

The gardeners at my complex went high-tech this year, however — they brought out a chainsaw!

clipped trees
Only the three or four newest fronds are left on each tree

The cutter uses a ladder to get as high as he can, but most of the palms are much, much taller than the ladder, so the cutter simply has to climb up the tree using climbing spikes strapped to his boots and a chain looped around the trunk and attached to a safety belt. It's no easy job and definitely not for the faint of heart.

In previous years I failed to notice one of the finer points of the procedure. Between the cutting and the carting off, other workers go around sorting and arranging the rubble — fronds stacked in once place, neatly aligned, and flower stalks in separate, equally neat piles.

What a mess! And it all has to be loaded up and trucked away

I once again tried to get some video of the trimming. Last year I used my digital camera in video mode, only to discover after the fact that it shuts itself off after a few seconds even if you continue to hold the shutter button down. And unlike most movie-making, if you miss the shot with the palm tree haircuts you have to wait a whole year for a second take. This year I set up the Linksys video camera to capture for up to 30 minutes. That, of course, was complete overkill, since the two trees in camera range were done in less than 5 minutes. Check out the video in the sidebar.