Examples of hopelessly overmatched armies overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds are ubiquitous throughout history.
- There was the Battle of Saragarhi, where 21 Sikh fighters defeated 10,000 frothing Afghans in 1897
- The Battle of Longewala, which raged for four days in 1971, resulted in the humiliating defeat of 2,000 Pakistanis at the hands of 120 Indian soldiers
- In 1213, 1,600 Crusaders routed more than 30,000 Aragonese and heretical Christians in the Battle of Muret
- And at Long Tan in 1966, 108 Australian soldiers repelled 2,000 savage Vietcong.
Unlikely outcomes in the face of overwhelming obstacles aren’t exclusive to bloody battlefields, however. They also occur in the tropical paradise of Tahiti Village, where the ratio of palm trees to palm tree estheticians presently stands at 682:5 in favor of the palm trees.
Outnumbered by more than 135 to 1 and dwarfed in some cases by more than 50 feet, Daniel Lemus and his intrepid crew from Daniel’s Lawn Maintenance could be forgiven for retreating – if only to gather reinforcements.
But withdrawing isn’t an option in their strategy plan. The palm trees require grooming and Daniel and his four-man team attack the job with chainsaws, climbing gear, long-handled shears, scythes and a boom lift twice a year, once in summer and once in fall.
The purpose is both practical and esthetic. Skinning (or shaving) the trees is just for looks, Daniel says. Cutting the leaves is necessary to prevent the palm’s flowers from turning into seeds (what he calls “suckers”), falling to the ground and creating too many voluntary palms.
“Our main target is the dry leaves and suckers,” Daniel says. “They dry out and die.”
The majority of Tahiti Village’s 682 palm trees are 45 to 50 feet tall. The tallest can soar to 60 feet, and our voluntary palms – about 150 – range from 15-20 feet. Tree height determines how Daniel and his team will ascend the palm.
“The 40-foot tall boom lift can be used on most of the palm trees,” he said, explaining the worker’s added height combined with his outstretched arms puts him nearly level with the 50-foot palm trees.
For the 60-footers, they don climbing belts and boot spikes and shimmy up the face of the tree.
Whether they use a chainsaw or a quiet cutting tool depends on the time of day. Early in the morning (they begin work at 6 a.m.) Daniel and the team break out the shears or scythe as a courtesy to sleeping guests. In the afternoon, it’s typically the chainsaws.
No matter which one they choose, the end result is always the same: Our palms trees turn out looking great.