My family set off for the annual tree hunting ritual this past weekend. We’ve had live trees in the past, yet without a place to plant them after they outgrow their pots, the trees get sacrificed anyway, so off we went find our own special tree at the Reindeer Ridge Christmas tree farm. The tree we cut down is an Italian stone pine — a first for us, after years of Douglas fir, Monterey pine and last year, a Monterey cypress. The tree was full and almost too wide for our tiny living room, but we squeezed it in, only to discover that the base was severely canted — something we failed to realize on the slanting hillside and with our view blocked by the lower branches. Nevertheless, I got it up after a great struggle and found that most of the tree stood to the left of the base. Counterweights on the order of a couple small anvils would have been useful and my suggestion of installing guy wires was quickly shot down, but it should stay upright as long we don’t bump it…

Like raising apples, Christmas tree farming is a barely economical venture in our area these days. Many of the farms I remember as a kid are now in grapes or houses. My family grew our own Monterey pines for most of my childhood until pitch canker made it nearly impossible to grow them (most of the area farms no longer grow Monterey pines either).  The local farms can barely compete with the huge selection of trees shipped down from British Columbia to the parking lots of Home Depot, Rite Aid, Lucky’s, et al. Even my mother often picks one up at Rite Aid these days.

We’ll keep returning to the tree farms. Next year, though, we’ll go by bicycle. We just need to find a trailer that can carry an 8 foot tree…

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