I haven’t had a Christmas tree of my very own for three years. The old farmhouse is cramped and there was no room for a tree other than the one that was already there and always there in the Christmas Room aka what was my bedroom. And after living with that thing every day all year long, I wasn’t much in the mood for a tree anyway. We satisfied ourselves by sharing my cousin’s tree next door.
But this year. This year! I was so ready for a tree! And so we set off for my cousin’s farm and trekked up the hill behind the barns across from the old farmhouse in search of our tree. Princess was away spending the night with a friend, but I had Ross (17) and Weston (15) to manhandle the tree. Ross’s girlfriend was onhand to admire him. 52 was onhand for scouting. I was there to document the event or so I kept explaining to explain why I wasn’t doing anything else. Well, other than pick the tree. I was the tree-picker.
Walking in the woods in West Virginia always involves a hill.
This was only halfway up the hill. This is my cousin’s upper hay meadow. Way at the far end is a great sledding hill.
But we weren’t there to sled. We were there to get a tree. And we had yet another hill to climb in the other direction.
There were plenty of pines up there. But they were mostly too big.
I was real tempted by this one.
But it was too narrow at the top and too wide at the bottom.
We kept trudging upward. And upward. To the top of the hill where 52 had scouted some trees and where I was starting to wonder if we were still on my cousin’s farm and if somebody was gonna shoot us.
The teenagers thought this one looked good.
Then I saw this one. A nice white pine.
If we just cut it off a little higher up, it could be just right!!
52 said, “Go over there and shake it.”
You know, he’s always telling me stuff. Nature stuff. Cool stuff. And I’m a little…. Well, it’s like when Georgia used to say to me, “What time did you say you were going into town?” And I’d say, “I wasn’t planning to go to town.” And she’d say, “Yes, you were. Let’s go at 10.” I always fall for that stuff. So I went over and shook the–
Okay, let’s just not even finish this story.
The boys had divided up their duties before we ever walked up the hill.
Weston was going to chop the tree down.
He likes to chop stuff.
Ross was going to drag the tree down the hill.
So Weston chopped. And chopped.
And even tried to push the tree down.
At one point, he even kicked it.
And maybe begged it a little bit.
He got hot and took his jacket off.
Ross told him anytime he wanted to admit he was a weenie who needed help, he’d help him. He’s a good big brother.
In fact, he suggested it might not be a bad idea to change jobs right about now. He could chop that tree down since, apparently, Weston couldn’t. Then Weston could drag it down the hill.
I just love it when my two teenage boys chase each other around a tree with an ax.
Okay, I don’t really like it when they chase each other around a tree with an ax. Luckily, Ross gave up before there was any blood. Weston was not giving up. He was going to defeat that tree! He’s a football player!
Then, abruptly, he said, “I’m done.” And handed the ax over. I think he just wanted to give up with dignity. And he was tired. One more chop was a bridge too far. Even for a football player.
Ross posed for his “moon landing” shot after he gave it the final blow.
Only…. Hunh. He still had to drag the tree off the hill. He found this quite disappointing.
The girlfriend was watching, so he had to be manly about it.
Weston told him the ax was real heavy to carry down.
Did someone throw a snowball at me?
I picked the tree! It was a hard job!
It was a long way down, but so so pretty with barren trees set against the bright, lowering sun.
We’re only halfway down, Ross. Sorry to tell you that.
Finally–finally!– we got down the hill to the road.
My cousin whipped out his chain saw and cut off the tree where we wanted and trimmed the lower branches.
And we loaded up our tree in the back of the truck……
….and drove away, the old farmhouse in the rearview mirror.
We got a Christmas tree!!! And everybody lived!