Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In Search of the Perfect Christmas Tree

This last weekend it was time for us to go out tree hunting. We always get a live tree for Christmas, and we figure with the relatively recent influx of trees to lower elevation areas, we are doing our part to help restore sagebrush grasslands. 

Although some years we go different places, this year we went to our usual haunt, which is full of pinyon pine and juniper trees. Not far from the truck I saw the tall juniper tree above, and it looked like the perfect Christmas tree to me. But you can never pick the first tree you see, that just wouldn't be right.

So we wandered around some more in the freezing temperatures, tromping through the snow. The snow wasn't very deep this year, so we couldn't go sledding, but there was enough of it that we could follow our tracks back to trees we liked a lot. The one above was in contention.

My mother-in-law liked this cute little one. You can see some sagebrush nearby--some people will get sagebrush as their Christmas tree, but we haven't tried that yet. I bet it would smell good.

Here I am squinting into the sun next to a really bushy pinyon pine that would take up half our living room. My husband for once said he would take a photo of me. I said okay because of you dear friends who read this blog and say I don't have pictures of myself. But I knew what I was letting myself in for.

"Dear, your finger is over the lens."

"No it isn't."

I bit my lip and tried to smile, then realized it didn't matter. But his finger wasn't completely over the lens, and  I cropped that part out. Someday my husband will learn to take photos. Maybe. When pigs learn to fly.

Before we get into the actual cutting the tree down part, I should tell you a little more about getting a Christmas tree, in case you live in the city and your only experience has been to the tree lot on the corner. On public lands in the West, it's quite common for the BLM and Forest Service to sell Christmas tree permits. The permit conditions range quite a bit, often depending on how many people live near the public land. Some permits cost up to $20, but where we live a BLM permit is only $3.50. The number of permits is generally limited to one to three, but in some areas an unlimited number of trees can be cut. The species of tree can vary from pinyon pine and juniper to white fir, Jeffrey pine, and even incense cedar near the Reno/Tahoe area. 

Okay, now to the cutting. When you go and cut your own Christmas tree, you have to remember to bring the right tools, namely a saw. My husband used a little saw that happened to be in the truck from when we cut our Christmas tree last year.

Which tree did we choose? We ended up back at the first one I had seen and liked, a juniper. We had never had a juniper tree before and I wanted to try something new. Junipers are often used for fence posts, and with this one growing so nice and straight, after Christmas we'll strip off the branches and make it into a fence post for our garden.

After a few minutes of sawing,  the tree was down. My husband may not be good at photography, but he makes fast work of cutting down a Christmas tree.

Back at home, we took it inside and found---oops, it was a couple inches too tall! A little clip solved that problem. Next came decorating it, which was quite a chore with Desert Boy. (My husband went off to do ranch chores.) While I put one ornament on the tree, Desert Boy decided it was fun to play with the others. With his fascination with balls, he had to handle nearly every one of the bulb Christmas ornaments. He found out the hard way they really aren't balls, and they shatter when you throw them. He also learned that it's not a good idea to bang them against the stone fireplace. I now have extra room in my Christmas storage bin.

Nevertheless, we eventually got the Christmas tree decorated, and Desert Boy is fascinated with the lights. Any bets on how long until he pulls the whole thing down?


eped said...

nice! we cut a juniper too, but ours is more of the Charlie Brown variety

The Incredible Woody said...

What a wonderful day. We used to go traipsing through the pasture in search of the perfect tree at my Grandma's house. What great memories!

Caroline said...

What a beautiful tree, and fun day! Desert Boy looks darling...

No joking about falling trees. Mine did last year onto thetile floor. I lost lots of our "keepsake," ornaments. But, I got over it....


Anonymous said...

No fair cropping the picture! I want to see it...finger and all! :) Beautiful tree!

Anonymous said...

Playpens are good to put the tree in and keep the toddler out : )

Hisbelovedchild said...

'Tis my first Christmas season in the High Desert--coming from the midwest I wasn't all that familiar with sagebrush at all, but your comment about the sagebrush Christmas trees made me stop and think, "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" would make a fantastic Christmas song, don'tcha think? I wonder if, just for the week before and after Christmas our wind farms could be made festive with lights, tinsel, the whole magillah? Imagine, thousands of twirling lights in the night sky!

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