Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Under the Bunyan Tree

When the kids were little we lived in a place called Port Hardy on the very north tip of Vancouver Island, isolated and very beautiful. Our first Christmas, we decided to join the ranks of the locals and get out there and cut down our own Christmas tree. I was rather excited at the prospect of tree cutting as I had grown up in southern Alberta where there wasn’t a tree for miles, so going into the forest was a whole new experience for me. My husband, well he was just revved up being able to spark up his chain saw. The kids being only 2 and 4 just did what we told them with the enticement of hot chocolate with marshmallows when we got home. Wish that were still true.

We hit the logging road in our 1964 Chevy truck, minus intact floor boards, on a bright, sunny Sunday on our first Christmas tree cutting expedition. Finding a good spot along the hydro lines, not that far from home, we decided it was a good place to look for a tree, either that or Neil had to pee, I’m not sure which came first. At any rate we all piled out dressed in our toques and heavy coats to get down to some serious tree cutting. Finding the perfect tree in the tree lot is daunting at best, but in the middle of the forest, not an easy task. The kids were busy picking up pine cones and tossing them at one another while Bill and I sized up the trees. Our criteria was stiff as we eliminated tree after tree. We had found a couple of reasonable candidates, which had been marked appropriately, when my eyes widened. Our excitement mounted as we ticked off each of our specifications. I could see Bill’s fingers itching to crank up the chain saw. We decided this was it and amongst yells of “tim…ber” saw our first, real forest tree fall to the ground.

After much grunting, hauling and dragging of our prize, we finally got loaded back into the truck and heading towards home with complaints of cold feet and empty tummies. I fed and watered the kids while Bill squared off the bottom of the tree for the stand and dug out the decorations from under the house. The kids waited anxiously in the living room, having already picked out the perfect location. I went to the garage to see what was keeping my favorite lumber jack only to find him looking from tree to stand after discovering it would only hold about one-third of the base of our fresh cut pine. I dispatched him to town after tossing “Rudolph” into the VCR to amuse the kids for another half-hour.

Anticipating the problems of regular stands being much too miniature for local loggers, Home Hardware had a fine array of large stands that would hold our tree steady for the next couple of weeks. The kids were happy to see daddy home with the new one and helped him steer the base through the ring and tighten the bolts to hold things nice and sturdy. Running back inside, jumping up and down the wait seemed endless and Bill and I pushed and prodded flipping branches through the front door and on completion slowly tilted the tree upright near its spot by the fireplace. Heads tilted up, no words could pass our stretched necks. Mouths agape we all just stood and looked up, way up. The top of the tree was bent over about a foot and-a-half, which meant the tree was close to 27 feet tall. It had looked much smaller in the forest than it did in the middle of our living room. I am not sure who started but the first giggles were followed by laughter to full on belly laughs and tears rolling down our cheeks as we gazed at the gigantic tree in the middle of our house.

At this point I knew we would never have enough decorations to complete the project so once again Bill was dispatched to town while the kids and I made a batch of shortbread cookies waiting for his return. The rest of the decorating went without a hitch but I am pretty sure Home Hardware had to restock after our visit to the store. It really was a beautiful tree and a memory not easily forgotten and one of the first of many forays into the bush for Christmas trees. Not only did we not get a Charlie Brown tree that year, but we got a tree Paul Bunyan would have been mighty proud of.

As you can see by the tree, we had to cut about 2 feet off the bottom so it didn't hit the ceiling and also so it was a little more stable.

1 comment:

laughingwolf said...

super wee tale, thx kg :D