I have a confession to make. I love fresh Christmas trees. However, I hate searching for a fresh tree when it is bitterly cold or the snow is deep. December tree cutting in the mountains of Colorado, the likelihood is quite high for both conditions.
Now as a young child, our Christmas trees came from the local grocery store. There were no such thing as Christmas tree lots in small-town, rural Iowa. Unless you had trees on your property or lived near a tree farm, holiday trees were found at the grocery stores, stacked up like neatly rolled cigars just outside the entrance, bound by twine. Mom would wait until the circular would come out with the specials and coupons. Sometimes our tree made an appearance right after Thanksgiving and other years, it was a week or two into December. It just depended on the week that coupon was printed. Evergreen happiness typically rang up at $10.
Life events brought me west to Colorado. Mountains. Sunshine. Trees. Lots of trees.
Now before you conjure up romantic images of idyllic hikes through the woods with blue birds landing on my finger, hunting for a tree takes time, effort, and a certain amount of grit. If the snow is light, hiking is easy. More time can be spent searching for the perfect tree.
However, when the snows run deep, my patience runs thin. This is where grit is important. A little formula begins to play out in my mind. It goes something like this… deeper the snow, the shorter the amount of time I want to spend hunting for that tree. And if the wind is blowing hard, I am willing to divide the amount of time spent hunting in half. As time progresses, trees that I rated as a 4 or 5 on my personal scale of 1 – 10 (1 being little more than a stick with needles to 10 being something worthy of the White House) begin creeping up to 7 or 8 rankings.
Ideally, the perfect tree would spring up right next to our SUV once we pull into the designated parking area. But since winter has other plans in mind, I tug on my neck gaiter, wind-proof jacket, fleece cap, double pair of gloves, snow pants, and snow boots. My husband who was born for this weather and deep-snow hiking is far ahead with the saw held gingerly in his hand. Me? I am waddling along, sinking up to my knee with every step.
Darling husband bounds back to me like a happy dog in the snow. “What about that tree?” he asks excitedly. “Oh… wait, there is another one over there!” I dutifully follow along offering my opinion which starts out truthful, but begins to deteriorate if the snows deepens.
But yet, each year, despite the snow, cold, and the wind… we find our tree. There it is… what I always hope we find: a Douglas fir, straight and true, good branching habit (ok… maybe a little flat on one side, but that side will be turned towards the wall), and a ranking of at least a 6 despite the winter conditions and my deteriorating truth.
Yes. I love fresh trees, but I confess that I am not wild about the hunt. The snow is always deep. Buried deadfalls are a tripping hazard. Temperatures hover in the teens, but drop precariously to single digits. My pace is much slower than my husband’s and I am exhausted by the time the tree is selected. Yet each year I return to the forest. Perhaps confession is good for the soul?