10 Dec 2011: Pines, firs, and aspens in the forest near Green's Peak.
When my two older kids were small, their dad and I used to go into the forest to scout out and cut our own Christmas trees. Sarah is 22 and Jacob is 20 now, so that was a very long time ago.
It was always an adventure, including the year we were almost stampeded by a herd of elk running through the clearing where we were cutting our tree. When I say the ground was quaking and the trees were trembling, I am not exaggerating. I had no idea how huge elk were until we were nearly trampled by them.
Mary's very own Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
This year Ed and I decided to venture out to cut our own tree. Why pay WalMart $50 for a tree when we could get a permit for $15 and select our own fresh tree from the forest surrounding our home? A week ago we headed up toward Green's Peak, about 30 minutes from home, with permit and chainsaw in hand.
I'm happy to report that we were not even remotely threatened by elk, although we did come across several hunters scouting for them. I think Ed was a little disappointed. As for me, I felt that hiking uphill through a foot of snow was adventure enough at our age!
Ed told me to pretend like I was cutting down the tree. Yeah, right.
I'd never even held a chainsaw in my hands before that day!
We found a couple of cute white fir trees, but then we hiked up a little higher to make sure we didn't see anything we liked better. That's where I found an odd little tree that somehow captured my imagination.
Many years ago, someone had cut off the top of the tree and left a good-sized stump (the permit states that you cannot leave a stump bigger than 6 inches tall). Against all odds, two new trees had grown out of the stump, becoming a sort of double-tree. I'd never seen anything like it.
Ed cuts my tree, leaving a nice small stump.
The more I looked at it, the more it grew on me. I tried to tell myself that it was too "unique" to be a Christmas tree, but I couldn't help myself. That tree was a survivor and somehow I could just see it covered with my treasured ornaments.
Seeing my expression, Ed asked warily, "Is this the tree you want?"
I answered, "I think so. Do you think it's too weird?"
"Yes," he replied emphatically. Then he sighed. "But I'll cut it for you if you're sure you want it."
Ed carries the tree back down to the road.
I wasn't 100% certain about the tree, but somehow it "spoke" to my heart. Ed doesn't get what I mean when I say things "speak" to me, but sometimes they just do. Almost like a recognition or a shared understanding. That tree felt like it was waiting for me.
Ed had to hike back up the "road" a ways to get the truck to where we were.
This week has been quite busy, filled with the usual Christmas activities, and the poor tree spent a couple of days in the back of the truck, a couple more on the porch after snow began falling again, and then a few days unadorned in the living room.
Our double-trunked tree in the living room, awaiting adornment.
We purchased new Christmas tree lights on Wednesday, and when Dylan and I returned from a caroling activity later than night, Ed had the tree nicely lit up. I love the soft glow of Christmas tree lights!
A close-up of where the new trunks grew around the original cut near the base.
On Friday we finished the last of our semester finals and school was dismissed for two weeks of Christmas break. Hooray! Yesterday, Dylan and I finally dragged out the boxes of Christmas ornaments and made our tree beautiful. It was just as perfect as I'd envisioned that day in the forest.
It is very different this year. In past years I had all three of my children helping me decorate the tree, and we sorely missed Sarah and Jacob.
Ever since my kids were babies, my tradition has been to buy each of them a dated Hallmark ornament each year, something that fit their personality or interests for that year. But this year newlywed Sarah's box of ornaments has a new home on a Christmas tree in Chris and Sarah's apartment. With Jacob away serving his mission in California, we didn't open his box of ornaments, either.
Somehow, though, Dylan's, Ed's and my ornaments were just enough to do our double-trunked tree up right. I think our odd little tree ended up just where it belonged!