Monday, December 5, 2011

Old Blooe

Maybe it's the writerness in me, but I have a tendency to name everything. Not in any kind of scientific way, or even a way that will help me somehow categorize and organize - you know, behaving practically - I just start calling inanimate things by a proper name. I had a van named Walter. I call the ball of moss in the goldfish aquarium Edgar. And last weekend, when we put up our Christmas tree, I started calling it Old Bluey. Which my son writes as "Old Blooe", so that's the official spelling now.

We went for a real tree this year. We've had one of those up-in-a-snap-prelit deals that comes in three pieces and smells worse every year you take it down from the attic for the last five years. Since last fall, we've been visiting all of our local self serve farms, with pick your own everything from apples to pumpkins to raspberries with fresh eggs usually available as well. And that has been refreshingly fun - to get our own pumpkin out of the patch where it grew, to run through the orchards eating apples right off the tree, and hear the kids get excited over which ones taste sweet, and which ones are tangy.

 We also live in a county that has a tenacious hunger to pave itself over, and turn every corner into a gas station/walgrees/fast food emporium, and turn every open field into very boring subdivision housing. Or worse - a hotel casino, and a whole series of new big box stores to replace already existing stores that now sit empty in the middle of some of the ugliest, mid-century subdivisions the human retina can bear to witness. Right after pumpkin season, they put up a commercial real estate sign on our pumpkin patch. Boo.

I'm all for making it worthwhile to keep things growing on some of the land. It used to feel wrong to cut down a perfectly beautiful living tree every year for a month or so of use, only to throw it away, but I've come around to the thinking that buying real trees from our neighbors helps keep our neighbors in the business of growing things. So this year, we drove miles down a stretch of gravel road, way out into the countryside where there were real hills (we don't get many of those around here) out to a tree farm to cut down our own Griswald Family Christmas Tree. It was in the middle of the forest, with pine trees from two feet to twenty feet tall scattered over acres and acres with not a speck of concrete to be seen.

Now, we've lived in the city, and the very-nearly countryside. Right now we live in a cottage near a lake, in a little village that's made up of a mix of summer homes and year-round residents. We have a very good mix of being in a neighborhood and still having a taste of country life. No sidewalks, no streetlights, really nice neighbors and very quiet nights full of stars... yes. But there are a few things that elude us. Our first year as well owners, we let the pipes freeze. We have a lovely collection of stately old oaks on our property, which comes with a lot of wildlife that likes to climb around in the attic. Some of them are pretty cool though.  I saw my first wild flying squirrel leaping off our roof. That was a surprise. We're getting the hang of it. Not enough to remember to bring a saw to the Cut Your Own Tree place.

They had a bunch for us to borrow. Smart farmers.
So we marched through a field full of trees and hipster parents like us, wearing skinny jeans and hand knit hats, looking for the perfect tree. Mr. Cate and CJ found it ten feet from the car. I wanted to walk around a little bit, but as Mr. Cate was freezing in his little hoodie and vans and no gloves (I explained about cutting down a tree. I don't know how he didn't realize that was an outdoor activity) and both of the boys were so convinced that they had found the Most Perfect Tree Ever, and that if we didn't get it right away, we would loose it to some other hipster dad who didn't know how to use a hacksaw either, and then Christmas would be ruined - we got the tree. It was a little blue spruce, the lightest gray blue I've ever seen, with half its branches missing, but that's what Mr. and Jr. wanted, so that's what we got.

Mr. Cate dutifully crawled under the tree with the farmer supplied saw. After all, he wasn't going to look like a wuss in front of the other dads. Not after I drove us there in the stick shift that he doesn't know how to drive. Mr. and Jr. carried the tree back to the car, dad holding the trunk, CJ holding the very tip of the top branch. By the time we tied him to the top of the car, I was calling the tree "Old Blooe". And I told CJ that it was his job to let me know if the tree started falling off the roof on the way home.*

We made it home. Old Blooe is now standing in the living room covered in all of our goofy ornaments, the ones Mr. Cate and I have slowly been collecting over the last 12 years, so pale gray it looks like a fake tree - except for the scent, which is so beautiful.

Wow, 12 years. This is going to be our 13th Christmas together. He's put up with my shenanigans for 13 years. Now that's impressive. I think there will be an extra special Happy 13 present under Old Blooe this year.

* we finally lost the old as dirt station wagon over the summer. It was a great car for things like bringing home christmas trees. Now we have two little compact deals, with trunks just big enough for groceries and cat litter. Ah well.