Over the years, Sarah, my daughter, has been the driving force behind our getting a Christmas tree. Even during her years in college she still has managed to be the one who pushes me hard enough to get me out on the road for the hunt. Last year, though, she wasn't around when my wife and I went out on a frigid winter's day and trudged through fields of snow and trees trying to find that one special tree. We found it at Smith Farms on the back road from Sangerville to Dover-Foxcroft. Our tree last year was a large balsam fir growing in a field of overgrown trees. It was a tree that hadn't been trimmed in at least a year, probably more, and it was a delightful addition to our home both in its beauty and in its balsam fir scent.
This year Sarah is home for the season. She has been after me since about mid-week last week to get the tree. Originally we planned to do it Friday when we went to Bangor to see a movie but I dragged my feet long enough that day to avoid it. My wife and I went downriver on Saturday but once again I managed to avoid the tree thing. Finally yesterday, Sunday, Sarah and I took the pickup and went back to Smith Farms to see if we could find a tree like last year's tree. There was a strong northwest wind blowing and the temperature was well below freezing, but we were both dressed for the season in puffy down parkas and layers of pants and warm boots, hats, and gloves.
Again we got permission to browse the fields of trees, especially the fields of overgrown trees. The room where we set up our tree has a 9 1/2 foot high ceiling so most of the usual trees aren't tall enough for us, but this year all of the untrimmed trees had long, unsightly growth from the extra long, rainy growing season this year. The first tree that caught our eyes was a large diameter but recently trimmed fir. We both figured that was just too easy so we wandered the fields for over an hour looking for something a little more natural looking than that one.
Two things began to overtake my senses. One was fatigue. The other was the awe of how beautiful it was out there. The sky was bright deep blue spotted with bright white puffy clouds. Under our feet and covering the ground around all the trees was a thin blanket of snow but there was no snow at all on the hundreds of young, dark-green fir trees through which the bright sun was shining from its winter perch low on the horizon. We wound up in a distant corner of the fields, as far from the farm as we could be, with a small grove of tall pines just beyond the field. Around those pines a bald eagle was soaring in the brisk wind, at one point passing right over us, white on black against the deep blue sky.
We found several large trees in that corner so we walked back to the farm and drove my truck down the snow-covered grass roads. We ignored warnings that if we get stuck we would be there till next spring, but the ground was frozen solid and I was careful not to let the truck skid off the path on the hills. The tree that we finally agreed on was about eleven feet tall with limbs six feet in diameter at the base. It took both of us to drag it to the truck, load it, and tie it on. We got some looks from the owners when we drove back into the yard. They joked that for trees like that, they charge by the hour. I would have agreed to that, though. It was as much fun in their fields as being in an amusement park. But really, they should have charged by the pound! That tree was heavy!
The tree spent last night still tied in the back of the truck, but today Sarah and I moved a bunch of furniture, trimmed the tree to 9 1/2 feet, and dragged it inside. I haven't dared to look at the paint on the three doorways we dragged it through! But it's standing in place now ready to be decorated. The aroma of all that balsam fir is enough to put even Scrooge himself in the mood for Christmas.