They visited again yesterday, four of them, with the strong desire to delimb the trees in the front yard enough that the house would get more light. They brought a handsaw, a couple of machetes, and a pitchfork. Hmmmm.
One of them also had a long belt with latches on the end. I'd say it was 15 feet long, maybe. They started the work by trying to swing it over the lowest branches they wanted to remove and hoping it would stick. Didn't work. Even when they got it over the branches, there was no way to secure it. It just wasn't long enough.
The trees aren't exactly climbable, although they gave it some real tries. The one they were intent on getting up into was smooth enough that they slid down every time they tried, even using the belt to secure themselves. I nearly got a very funny picture of a missionary hanging by the belt from the tree when he slipped, but he got out of the mess before I could get into position to snap a picture.
Finally, one of them climbed up to the tree next to the one they were trying to work on. I'm still unsure how he managed it, as there simply are no low branches. He got high enough to hook the other tree then secure the belt, then he slid down the tree... good thing he was wearing jeans.
But it still wasn't any good. They now had a belt hanging from a tree branch way above their heads, and the ladder I have wasn't tall enough to do anything but grab the bottom of the belt. So they did what they often do in this situation. They went over to the neighbors and borrowed an extendable ladder.
The extendable ladder reached just a few feet below the branch they were trying to get to, so one of them climbed up the ladder and started to haul himself up. Then he said, "take the ladder away!" which they did. It appeared to me that he was using the adrenaline from no having the ladder to go back to get himself up onto the branch. Since I was already working on my fifth or sixth panic attack, I just decided it was best for me to go inside and make some cookies for them. I did put the first aid kit out by the door, just in case.
A short while later there was the crack! of tree limbs coming down, and occasional whoops of approval from the guys on the ground. The light in the front room gradually brightened as they removed the branches that really block the sky. They got glares from passing cars as the branches came down within a foot of the street, but as far as I could tell none of them actually hit the road. The guys on the ground chopped smaller branches off the limbs and put those in the yard waste bin. At one point another guy climbed a different tree and cut down a couple of branches that were over our driveway.
I put out the usual cookies and Gatorade, and watched as they finished up cutting branches off the tree. It looks a bit barren now, but the additional light in the house is really nice, and the tree itself has a lot more branches further up. I hope they didn't kill it...
Well, I thought that might be it for their efforts, but the original missionary who started the job wants to continue it. He says that working on people's yards is much, much better than getting doors slammed in his face.