Sunday, December 04, 2005

'Twas Quite A Burden

by BH

Last Monday I decided that since I had a day off, I would drive up to a Christmas tree farm about an hour outside of town. This place is out in the middle of nowhere, but consistently has cheap prices, the best selection, and the prettiest trees around. As I left town, there was a steady rain which turned to a steady snow as I approached the tree farm. By the time I arrived, there were six new inches of snow on the ground. The farm straddles a road, and each side slopes away from the road. I had to leave my pickup, which I would normally be allowed to drive right to a tree, on the road, walk down the hill, and drag the tree back up. Fine. No problem really. I have had worse experiences dragging trees up hills.

Christmas of 2001 was the first Christmas together for my wife and I. We had started dating in July and been engaged in September. She was excited about our first Chistmas, and I, still being in the early infatuation stages of the relationship, felt a certain level of enthusiasm as well. My wife convinced me that our first tree needed to come from somewhere out in the middle of the forest. Fine, I thought. We had a ten-foot ceiling so she wanted a ten-foot tree, which would cost a fortune at a tree lot. The idea that with a little work, I could save probably $20-60 and have a free-range tree was not unappealing, so I agreed. We left town at around 9:00am, also to a steady rain that quickly became steady snowfall. I had had in mind a little side road near Morgan Summit that I had used several times for woodcutting and prior Christmas tree expeditions. I thought it would be a good place to find a tree, but when we arrived the road had been cut off by repeated snowplow passes and was no longer an option. At the top of Morgan Summit is a snowmobile park. I knew that there was ample parking and a trail that would lead my wife, dog and I to a good selection of trees. When we reached Morgan Summit, it was dumping and windy. Not optimal conditions for doing anything. I parked the pickup and we started down the road in hopes of finding a nice little tree for our new family.

About a mile into our little trek, we had no tree. We had seen candidates, but they had all, until that point, failed to fulfill my wife's idea of what our tree would look like. Finally she saw the tree she wanted. It was a nice, full tree with no discernable spots that would need to be placed facing the corner. The only problem was that the tree was 200 feet down a hill in five feet of snow. She convinced me that this was our tree, so I said, "Allright, let's go," to which she replied, "I'm not going down there." Grrrrr. As I said, I was still in the early stages of the relationship, so my otherwise capable brain was on sabbatical. So, I went for the tree. I called to the dog, who looked at me in such a way as if to say, "Dude, are you crazy?"

Off I went, falling in to my hips with each step. From time to time I would look up the hill at my wife, who would be playing fetch with the dog or waving to me. By the time I reached the tree, despite the 20 degree temperature, I was soaked with sweat. Luckily, the tree well allowed me to get low enough on the tree to keep it relatively in tact and near my wife's ten-foot ideal. I cut the tree with a hand saw. by the time I'd finished I was pretty tired. But the real work was yet to begin. I started dragging the tree up the hill, having to stop several times in order to catch my breath and regain the strength in my arms so that I could continue pulling the tree. In my estimation, walking down the hill, getting the tree, than walking back up took around 45 mintues. When I got to the trail where my dog and wife were waiting, I sat down and rested for a few moments, remembering that I still had another mile in which I'd have to drag the tree. To make a long story a little shorter, I did drag the tree back to the pickup, take it home, erect it, and decorate it. It was a pretty tree, but every time I walked by it I felt like pioneers must have felt. Like it was a long trip from Kentucky to Oregon, and it was tough losing two kids and twelve oxen, being robbed three times, and getting bit by snakes along the way, but you know your family's better off for having done it.

Our first tree

Since that day, I have been to the tree farm four times, and a lot in town once. I can say with some level of confidence that my days of trudging through waist deep snow in order to find a Christmas tree are through. I still do crazy stuff in order to make my wife and son happy, but I think the craziness has been tempered.

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