Who are you going to call when your beloved pet cat is 40 feet up a pine tree barely 6 inches in diameter — chased up by a rogue neighborhood dog — and it’s 8 o’clock at night in the Methow valley? The classic picture is of a fully uniformed fireman on a ladder truck reaching high branches to rescue a frightened feline. Not here.
Fortunately, we have our very own tree whisperer, who is not only adept at what he does, but is one of those “good folk” of the valley. Owen Almquist responded to our plea with his son in tow, all the equipment needed, and a great big smile to bring the kitty down from its predicament.
Owen learned his tree skills while living in Minnesota and working for the world’s leading scientific tree and shrub care company, Bartlett Tree Experts, which has over 100 offices worldwide. Upon returning to the Methow where he grew up, Owen first served a dual role at methownet.com. He not only had IT skills, but also, in a valley full of trees, could sight the best line for an internet signal, determining which trees should be limbed or cut down.
With his specialized tree care skills, Owen soon ventured out on his own offering a variety of tree services including Firewise and risk assessments, pruning, falling, chipping, and emergency services for hazardous, storm-damaged trees. Not only does he have expertise with the common up-valley trees — fir and pine — but, because of his training in the Midwest, is also familiar with the deciduous trees more common down-valley.
But, what about a cat up a tree? That, too.
Watching Owen don his gear and shinny up an adjacent tree with a slightly larger diameter was an impressive sight. I thought of those guys who climb palm trees to gather coconuts or cut off “dirty skirts” in the tropics. Owen reached the height of Beppe the cat in seconds flat. Happy to have a way down in sight, the cat didn’t balk at the outreached hand. He did not, however, want to get into the industrial-strength rescue bag that Owen carried up.
Holding the cat in hand, Owen quickly descended the 40 feet in seconds, handing off the yowling cat to its owner. Success and relief! Call Owen’s Tree Service (509) 429-0730 for your gnarly (or simple) tree jobs!
The cat in the tree was our second “pet” drama for the week and the second time the “good folk” of the Methow were there to help. The first time was caused by human error — a gate unknowingly left open.
Our opportunistic, and very smart, horses discovered the open gate and a path to freedom. They didn’t take their escape nonchalantly. Rather, they headed down the lane galloping as if they were pulling the Wells Fargo stage. A couple of neighbors saw the blur of horseflesh pass by and ran to catch up, but no match for the horsepower. Another neighbor jumped in his pickup, gathered up the two on foot while we chased in the Gator.
Horror ensued when we saw the blonde and the bay galloping down Highway 20 on a late Sunday afternoon. It’s not rocket science that “non-essential” westbound traffic is at its peak about that time. Frantically rolling in the Gator on the highway’s edge, a white Subaru heading west approached with arms and heads out the window. “Are you looking for horses?” YES! “That way!”
The goofball escapees took a right turn at Timberline Meadows where the neighbor in his truck blocked their return to the highway. Creeping up with pans of grain, halters in hand, the escapade was soon over. On the long walk home, the ponies were contrite, submissive, heads down. It’s all fun and games until you get caught!
Thanks to the neighbors and strangers for help in averting a disaster. Note to self: Check all gates, every time.
Another note: Since the burn ban is now on for good reason, a conscientious Mazaman out for a walk approached campers in an unauthorized camping spot and informed them that their campfire was banned. Then, she waited until they put it out. Again, neighbors watching out for neighbors. The last thing we need now is a wildfire to add to our dystopia!