Monday, January 8, 2007

Beast of a tree proves to be a beauty

By David Horst

   It’s time to dismantle the Christmas tree. For most households, that involves pulling apart artificial, pre-lit sections. For us, it means cutting off the lower limbs to have a chance at getting it out the door.
   Holiday visitors have all had the same reaction as they’ve rounded the corner into the living room: “Oh my gosh, look at the size of that tree!” That’s followed inevitably by: “How did you get it in the door?”
   It was by no means easy. That’s why we came to refer to this tree as “The Beast.”

The Beast and Molly
   Ill-timed losses of loved ones have dampened the past two Christmases. To restore my wife Jean’s normal wonder at the holiday, I said I would accept without protest any tree she picked.
   Real vs. artificial is not even up for discussion at our house. For people who say they went artificial because they were vacuuming up needles weeks after taking down the tree, I say they have too pristine an idea of living in a house.
   While Jean and I agree on real, we have different visions for what “perfectly shaped” means. I go for classic conical – not Charlie Brown, but something light can penetrate. Jean’s vision is way far from Charlie Brown. It’s more Fat Albert.
   We ventured out to Hansen Family Choose and Cut near Wild Rose and searched the many spruces. Three straight dry years have been tough on spruce, but Jean found one that stood out as greener than most. It may be its extreme mass created its own gravity and sucked in the moisture.
   I stood in front of the tree with my arms outstretched, a saw extending from my right hand. The tree was wider. The height well exceeded our 9-foot ceilings. The denseness of the branches made we wonder whether we would find any place to dangle ornaments.
   Still, I had promised, so I dutifully put the handsaw to the trunk. We had to take shifts to carve our way through this thing.
   Dragging this beast over the snowless ground turned out to be just the prelude to the workout of hefting it into our trailer. Branches hanging out everywhere, we were on our way. Once home, we sawed off another 10 inches.
   If loading was a chore, to get the tree through a 33-inch doorway was to defy physics.
   I bound some of the lower branches with twine and wrapped the tree in a tarp to ease the wear and tear on the door. The folks at Hansen’s had recommended fashioning a chute with plywood, but I didn’t think we could spare the quarter-inch on each side.
   With a team tug, we got The Beast halfway through the storm door on our sun porch. That’s when the twine got inexorably caught on the door closing mechanism. A slash of my pocketknife cut it free.
   Sproing! Now we had a fully open tree halfway through a doorway.
   Putting our backs to it, we pulled free of the storm door. The interior door, we soon discovered, is a bit narrower. We pulled and heaved but the tree’s bending limbs had more strength than ours did. I theorized we could pull with all of our strength to the left, and then to the right, and back and forth, advancing the tree one branch at a time.
   That worked, and soon we had a tree lying on the majority of our living room floor. Getting it to stand and stay standing seemed a hernia in the making. In fact, when we attached the tree stand and tipped it up, the tree stood perfectly stable. My guess is its width gives it a low center of gravity – like a giant Weeble.
   We tamed The Beast and made it submit to wearing lights (800 of them) and ornaments. We did it without rancor, without swearing, without even harsh words.
   It would not have been my choice for an indoor tree, but I’ll admit there’s one more thing visitors say.
   “I’ve never seen a more beautiful tree.”

1 comment:

  1. PRICELESS... beautiful tree and Molly too... love it! Darlene H.