When we moved back to the Pacific Northwest eleven years ago, we added a new tradition to our Christmas preparations. Every year we get a permit to go out and cut our own tree from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Taking advantage of the good weather, we ventured out yesterday to find the perfect one.
The permits are only five dollars-a real bargain! Two years ago when extremely cold temperatures prevented us from going out, and we bought our tree locally, I was shocked at the prices! Upwards of $80 for a six foot tree! Luckily, we waited so long to get ours, that trees were 50% off by then.
There are certain guidelines that people are asked to follow in choosing their trees, to maintain the health and beauty of the forest-to not cut trees along the highway or within 150 feet of a river, stream or active wetland, and to select a tree from a group of trees instead of ones that are growing individually.
We found a good place to start walking in search of our tree. It was a beautiful day-cold, but sunny. There was also not so much snow that walking was difficult. I still lagged behind Amy and Stuart though. I was so bundled up that I could only take about a six inch stride!
The word slow is not part of Kona’s vocabulary. She has only two speeds. Stop, and fast. Willow, at fifteen, no longer can make the trip. I bet she enjoyed the piece and quiet without Kona for a few hours though!
Trees cut in the wild tend to look more like Charlie Brown Christmas trees. Often more sparse than commercially grown trees, lopsidedness is a common feature. Still, they are so beautiful. Walking among the possible choices, in the forest cathedral gives a new meaning to the word perfect. After a pleasant half hour or so search, we found the one.
Carrying it back to the car, we enjoyed a few more moments of the stillness and crispness of the woods.
This year I wore one of those “mad bomber” fake fur lined hats. They are warm-even if I felt like I was wearing a raccoon on my head.
Amy helped secure our perfect tree to the top of the car.
Several hours, lights, ornaments, and cups of eggnog later, our tree was the gorgeous centerpiece of our living room. At a dash under 10 feet, it is the tallest tree we have ever had. True to form-trees always look smaller in the wild!
And today, my sweet girl Amy, the centerpiece of my life, is sixteen!