Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Perfect Christmas Tree

I have deadlines, it's raining, (sniffle... is this the start of a cold!?) and the commute hours are about to begin... what should I do?

How about... Christmas Tree shopping!

I looked for a Christmas Tree farm somewhere in the East Bay at the California Christmas Tree Association website. I found the Alhambra Valley Tree Farm in Martinez.

The arrow points to roughly where our tree grew up. This will be our third tree that I cut myself: One from Lassen National Forest, one from a place in Castro Valley, and now this one. To cut a tree in a national forest, you buy a $10 one-day, one tree logging permit. Cut-your-own tree farms charge me $50. I learned from my mom and the forestry ranger on my first time that if you cut about 4' from the ground, you don't kill the tree. The root system stays intact and helps hold the hillside together. Plus, a new crown will grow, and in 4 to 8 years someone else can harvest it again! We've tried a live tree, but it's so unkind to take a conifer and put it in your nice warm house when it is expecting the coldest days of the year. Artificial trees are made of unnatural substances. My opinion is that making the trip out into a husbanded area and doing the deed, cutting my own tree, connects me to the season, connects me to the rituals, connects me to Nature's replenishing abundance.

"Dad, I want this one!"

This might be our final Christmas in this house. Xena always pushes for the biggest tree we can afford. A $50 cut tree is whatever size you can find. My son and I found a truly massive tree. I could scarcely imagine why no one had taken it before. Except that it was at the top of a tall hill. A tall muddy hill. A tall muddy hill that was slippery on the way up, and sticky on the way down. And the tree's first 5 feet of trunk had a very pronounced curve.

After I cut it, I discovered it weighed as much as I do. As I dragged it down the hill it picked up perhaps another 30 pounds of wet, sticky, muddy clay. My hands were so caked I didn't dare wipe away the sweat and rain streaming into my eyes. It took three men to lift the monstrosity onto the van.

I used a day's worth of water washing the mud off. I have no idea how we're supposed to get this thing into the house. We'll have to make a bunch of ornaments for it. My hands are covered in small red welts where the tree bit me.

The best: Xena is very excited to see a tree that will reach to the ceiling of our Victorian living room.

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