“Let’s go get a real tree,” she said.
“Yes. Let’s do it,” I said.
We had passed a local Christmas tree farm recently on an afternoon drive back home.
“Let’s go there,” she said. “They’re local.”
So we loaded into the truck and headed out. The weather was as autumnal as its defining characteristics–wind that made your skin shiver; leaves that crunched under our steps; cerulean skies; temperatures in the forties.
The road to the Christmas tree farm is a state highway through countryside. Driving it, you see horse farms, cattle ranches, million-dollar new homes that aim to look rural, and then you see trailers and shanties, too. I love the contrasts, actually–the range of people and types.
We were far from alone when we arrived thirty minutes later at the Christmas tree farm. Trucks lined the highway.
We saw some Frasier firs first. But then she saw the Turkish fir, and was hooked. It was full, smelled as delicious as Grandma’s house on Thanksgiving Day. “This one’s so pretty!” she said.
“You done looking, already” I asked?
“Yes,” she said. “I’m so glad we came here.”
I told one of the employees we’d found the one for us. He helped me carry it to the kids who shook the loose needles off with a machine. Then two of the other young men and a young woman ran it through the baler. When they pulled it through the netting, red and green netting covered the tree and one of the young men carried it down the hill towards my truck.
I would like to say that I am a handyman and that I had no complications cutting off more of the base of the tree and fitting it perfectly into the stand, when I got home. I wish. But it was less than perfect when I did it. We turned the tree; I trimmed off limbs with my shearers; I used my chainsaw to shorten it, confident I could cut the angle needed to make the tree stand perfectly vertical. After more than a little frustration, we finally got it all to a place where it looked relatively good in the living room.
“I’m going outside,” I said. I went out, raked some leaves, blew off the driveway, played with the dogs–things I knew I could do, things requiring little if any skill.
Now the sun has set behind the ridge; I have fed the dogs; my back hurts from wrestling with the tree; she has gone to pick up some new lights for this year’s tree; and, well, it’s a good ache in my lower back.
Below are some scenes from the day. What’s the upshot? It’s the small things; they’re not small. We don’t do fancy. We do small and it’s okay. Here’s to the ache in my back, the scent of fresh-cut pine in the house, the sun setting over the ridge, and the sap on my pants.
Lady, our Cavalier King Charles, eyed me as I tried to get the tree straight in the stand: