Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Perfect Tree?

Early last week, I mentioned to my lovely wife that it was just about that time of the year to go in search of the perfect tree for Christmas. Since my time is more flexible these days, I offered to do the tree shopping myself before the weekend, that way I could have it set up and ready for decorating on the Sunday. The lovely wife responded that she really wanted to come along and help; yes I realize that my definition of the perfect differs from hers! So it was thus established that on Sunday afternoon following church, we would venture out in search of a tree.

On Thursday evening, the lovely wife informs me that perhaps her Sunday afternoon would be better spent writing Christmas letters so perhaps I could get the tree on either Friday or Saturday. I do not think it was the call of the Christmas letters she heard but more likely she saw the weather forecast for Sunday which called for snow and temperatures in the mid-twenties!

So Friday morning after completing my work at the food bank, under threatening skies, I gathered my saw, boots, and rain gear and headed out to a local tree farm that I knew well. Over the years, I have cut many fine trees at this lot and as I had brokered the purchase of seedling for the former owners, I often received a professional discount on my tree. As the tree farm is located about twelve miles out of town I had lots of time to watch the sky grow darker with each passing moment. About half way there, I noticed the wind was rocking the trees on a distant hill and the rain was beginning to pelt the windshield of my truck. It was at this point I remembered how much I hated working outside on days like today but since the forecast called for worse weather, it was now or never!

I arrived at the tree farm and was greeted by the new owner; his first comment was something on the lines of how I should have been here yesterday when the weather was nice. He then goes on to explain how to choose a tree and finally what species were available and how to identify them. My first thought was to tell him that as forester with over thirty years experience I had a good idea what a good tree looks like and further, it was because of my efforts several years ago he now had a crop to harvest. My second thought and the one I went with was to stand there and keep my mouth shut and hope that he would soon have the good sense to get inside out of the rain. Just as he turned to leave, he added that all trees are only $6.50 per foot. If the weather had not been getting worse by the minute, I would left. As I hiked into the field, I began to calculate the cost of the perfect tree; since I was looking for one in the neighborhood of eight feet, I was going to be writing a check for fifty-two bucks. Now I realize that in some places, Christmas trees are extremely expensive, but Astoria is not one of those.

Too many choices on such a nasty day? The white spots are caused by light from the camera's flash reflecting off the rain drops

As I head over the hill, I begin to develop my strategy, find a short tree that’s fat or speaking more politically correct, full at the bottom. Since this tree farm does not culture their trees, they all have a more natural appearance; therefore they often lack that “full figure appearance”. After five minutes I spot the perfect tree but I want to get a picture before putting a saw to its base. I reach into my coat pocket only to realize that the camera is back in truck safe and dry, so it’s back up the hill to fetch it. As I get to the parking lot, the owner is shocked to see me and comments that surely I am not giving up so quickly. I inform him that I have located a candidate but mention nothing about the camera; I do not want him to think that I am a total lunatic.

So with camera safely secured in my coat pocket, I head back down the hill to complete this mission. If you have ever gone to the woods you know where I am going with this story. As I continue down the hill, I can not find my perfect tree or the saw that I had carelessly laid beside it. As the rain continues to pelt, I wander aimlessly between the rows of trees in search of something that looks familiar. Oh yea, at this point I’m having loads of fun. It also hit me why I retired; I wanted to be inside of such miserable days.

2008's perfect tree or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it

The saw and tree were finally located, cut and the financial obligation settled at the cash register. Over the course of the next year, I will also be searching for a new Christmas tree farm.

1 comment:

Ptelea said...

Very funny story! When I saw the white spots in your photos, I was reminded of the people I know who would swear these are some kind of sign of the occult!! Possibly ghosts!