Arborist Ice Carvings

by Elizabeth Dengler

As I type this article I hear the familiar sound of chainsaws in my neighbor’s yard as clean up crews are clearing a giant Evergreen that crashed through their front porch and blocked the access to their home during the windstorm that blew through the area early on Wednesday.

As a wife of an arborist, I can tell you I have a different relationship to windstorms than most. Storms that blow in overnight have me shoot straight out of bed, more out of anxiety for what’s to come than for what is happening. As I hear trees and branches fall, I know that my husband’s cell phone will begin blowing up at 6:30 in the morning as daylight breaks on the destruction. I know that most of the work that needs to be done won’t actually require an arborist so much as a ground clean up crew with some chainsaws; and the other jobs that call on his skills will require cranes to remove uprooted trees off of people’s homes. I know that my husband will get called out to assess the damaged trees by insurance companies. And I know that after every wind event more and more people become afraid of their trees and will insist they all need to be removed. As a certified tree risk assessor, I know he will spend as much time over the coming weeks evaluating people’s trees as he will educating the homeowners on keeping their trees healthy and safe while putting their minds at ease. I know that warmer temperatures and heavy rainfall in the winter followed by high wind is a recipe for tree disaster.

Dan Dengler and his emerging ice swan

So what on earth does any of this have to do with the title of this article?
Five days before the storm, a group of 18 local arborists, tree climbers, and artisans got together in the West Central Neighborhood at Spirit Pruners owned and operated by Kelly Chadwick, for their annual Ice Carving Exhibition. These are folks who typically operate chainsaws over 100 feet in the air, tied into the trunks of the area’s largest trees to oversee the health, safety and beauty of one of this area’s most treasured natural resources. And here they all were, spending their Friday morning with both feet firmly on the ground, chainsaws devoid of bar oil as they carved and ground the 300 pound block of ice in front of them until their artistic vision was achieved.

Dan Dengler, Paul Heindl, Kelly Chadwick, Nathan Windham, Hazen Audel, Dario Ré and Joe Bryant’s crew were just a few of the talented carvers participating in this year’s event. Their frozen works included a graceful swan (Dengler), peace sign shot dispenser (Heindl), an abstract artistic styling (Chadwick), a nod to the iconic LOVE sculpture with an acorn for the ‘O’ (Windham), Santa Claus (Audel) and an acoustic guitar (Ré).

One of the most noticeable results of the frozen artwork, beyond what it takes to make these impressive pieces, is the impact it has on the community in West Central. Walking up and down the sidewalks, talking with the artisans, taking pictures and chatting with one another were the people who live on this block of the West Central neighborhood far removed from the upscale housing and posh businesses of Kendall Yards. This past year we have been impacted by the economic and social woes of the Coronavirus. And while access to art and local exhibits has been squashed in our region, in this small corner of West Central, in the shadow of the Spokane Courthouse; art, pride and beauty came to life for the people of West Central by way of an outdoor, ice exhibition.

To all the arborists, tree climbers, and ground crews doing the work out there cleaning up, clearing out and making safe our community in the wake of the windstorm, THANK YOU! You are appreciated.

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