Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Perfect Christmas Tree

Erin directs Stephen, across the valley, to check out a tree. Fish Lake just visible in right distance.
Every winter, in the week before Christmas, our daughter organizes the search for the perfect Christmas tree. Generally this means a major expedition, with axe, saw, lots of rope, a hearty breakfast and deep winter gear, snow paks, three layers of parka and double mitts even in the mild -26'C temperatures. We will be gone for several hours. This year we head for Fish Lake, an alpine lake not far from Whitehorse.

Andrew with the heavy equipment.
The road to the lake is steep and winding. Along the way we can see scattered pine and spruce boughs where others have found their tree and hoisted it to the roof of their car. We pass a father and son grinning as they load their tree for the ride home. At a likely spot we pull over and climb over the snow drifts alongside the track. We are quickly up to our hips in soft snow as we break trail into the woods. Andrew carries the equipment, while Stephen and Erin fan out to check out the trees. I follow along in the deep trench through the snow.

We stop and check out a tree, give it a good shake to release the snow and see if the perfect Christmas tree is hiding beneath it. No, too many broken branches, no, that one has an open space. Next time I say no, its way too big, it'd fill the whole living room, never mind not fit through the door. We trail on, winding through the woods, looking up at snow covered trees. As we come down to the lake we come across a group of mushers heading down the lake with their dog teams.We can hear the dogs barking and yelping with excitement as they speed across the snow covered ice.

We turn back into the bush and continue our search. Eventually we narrow the choice to two trees, both tall but not too broad. Erin finally decides and the saw quickly drops it. It is a big and thick spruce. Looking at the stump we see that the first ten to fifteen years were slow growth, very tight rings. But then the branches must've spread and for the next fifteen to twenty years the tree shot up with fat wide rings showing dry, warm summers and mild winters. At home the tree warms and drops its stiff branches. Decorations come out and we have our perfect Christmas tree. Our best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season .

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