By David Horst email@example.com
NAVARINO -- For us, getting a Christmas tree is always an adventure.
Our tree is live. It’s cut by us. It is large.
We've had big fat trees, tall conical trees and bigger, fatter trees.
We’ll travel 20 miles for a tree. We have hiked every inch of an 80-acre tree farm and then walked away empty-handed when none of the trees met our -- well, really her -- standards.This year we went to the wild side. Unshorn trees in a former tree farm in the Navarino Wildlife Area were going for $20. Any size. Any species. Sales benefit the Navarino Nature Center.
|Past tree stories:|
Leaving its mark
Sometime after Christmas -- if you are attentive to keeping the water supply topped off -- a spruce that has been severed from its roots and has been living indoors for several weeks, may well start to grow. Green stems sprout from the branch tips and keep growing for five or six inches before it is hauled back to the burning pile. (By the way, burning a dried out Christmas tree will handle your firebug tendencies bigtime.)
With the trailer hitched, tires inflated and tail lights tested, we headed for the Shawano County line. That’s where you will find Navarino Nature Center and the adjacent wildlife area and, once again this coming Saturday (Dec. 10), it will be open for cutting.
With the temperature in the upper 40s, it was a pleasant walk in the woods. We entered into a typical northern woodland but, before too many dozens of steps, we were immersed in conifers.
White pines, balsam, Scotch pine were all there for the taking. Most of them towered above us, but for your $20 you are welcome to cut down a tree that is far too tall for your house, cut off the top for your tree and the branches for your wreaths and other yuletide decorations.Two warnings about Daniel Booning your tree from the woods:
- The top of the tree looks a lot more lush and full when it’s 30 feet in the air than when it is felled and lying at your feet.
- That really full tree you’ve got your sights on could very well be two or three or more stems that have grown together. Unless you’ve got a really funky tree stand, you are going to be taking home a tree with three bad sides.
These are wild trees and you should expect to celebrate your Christmas with that outdoor spirit.
After 45 minutes of wandering in the woods, we found a potentially acceptable spruce and marked it with a forked twig looped over a branch. Then we set off to find an even better spruce.
Half an hour later, we hadn’t found the ideal white spruce and had no idea where our marked tree was.
With the time in the woods having passed the two-hour mark, we located two worthy spruce trees a few steps from each other. Eyeing up their relative branch density, trunk straightness and brown needle count, we chose the one slightly more northern.
Our living room ceiling is a hair over 12 feet high, so we lopped off 15 feet of tree and dragged it back to the road. Sweat-drenched and panting, we presented ourselves to the Navarino volunteers, who took pity and loaded the tree into our eight-foot the trailer.
Once home, I successfully negotiated the tree back to 12 feet, 8½ inches. We dragged it through the front door, affixed the tree stand and, using every memory of strength I’ve ever had, lifted it upright.The good thing about a tree that big is that once you get it perpendicular, it stays in place just by the force of its own weight.
This was a successful tree hunt because it gave us another adventure and another story to share. Placing hundreds of lights, selecting favorite ornaments and remembering their stories still lie ahead. That’s when this collection of branches and needles dragged into our house goes from being a spruce tree to a Christmas tree.
But from now on, I may need to knock off a couple of inches for each additional year I age.