[By Tina Koyama in Seattle, Washington, USA] One of my first guest posts on this blog was about Seattle’s ubiquitous above-ground utility poles and wires that mar the landscape as well as individual trees. Unattractive though they may be, power poles are an endless source of sketching entertainment for me. In particular, the pole right outside our house has been a front-row sketching opportunity on three occasions.
A year-and-a-half ago, I spent a beautiful August morning on the sundeck outside our second-floor bedroom sketching Seattle City Light workers installing a new power pole. Looking straight down, I could see dirt being sucked out of the hole that workers had dug next to the existing pole.
Next I watched an amazing choreography as a crane lifted the new pole off the ground and turned it around – without knocking into the tangle of utility lines, trees or our house! Mesmerized watching all the smooth, well-practiced movements, I cringed when the pole got close to those wires. The pole was very quickly put into place right next to the existing pole, the hole refilled with dirt, and they were done – at least with “our” pole.
|8/9/14 New pole installation.|
After that they moved down the block a few yards to work on the pole in front of our neighbor's house. They used a huge auger to dig the hole for it.
|8/9/14 Augering a hole for the new pole.|
As they moved the second new pole into place, again right next to the old pole, I sketched the equipment operator – the hero of the whole operation. I was so impressed by his skill in maneuvering the long business end of that machine. Finally the workers shoveled the dirt that came out of the hole back in, and they were done – in just a little more than two hours.
|8/9/14 Equipment operator|
About a year ago, the utility workers were back again, this time to fix a problem. Since they turned the power off at our house around dusk, I had to sketch that incident by flashlight through the livingroom window.
|1/31/15 Repair work on "our" pole.|
Today our utility pole saga finally reached its conclusion. A year and half after installing the new pole, workers came out for a third and (we hope) last time to fully decommission the old pole (still standing next to the new one all this time). They had to turn the power off at our house again, but at least it was during the day, so I had good light through the bedroom windows.
|1/28/16 Preparing to take down the old pole.|
I thought they would fully take down the old pole at last, but instead, the guy up in the cherry picker chainsawed small lengths of the pole and took it down only about halfway. Regretfully, I couldn’t sketch the chainsaw work because he was always sawing from the far side of the pole. And he was fast! Every time I’d start a sketch, he would be done and move his cherry picker again.
Working all morning and half the afternoon through drizzle, the utility guys impressed me with their speed and efficiency (year-and-a-half epic notwithstanding). And once again I had the most sketching fun I’ve ever had while still wearing my bedroom slippers.